The First Emma by Camille Di Maio

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The First Emma is a moving story of love, hope, and murder that captures one woman’s journey to make her mark on history and another’s desire to preserve it.

https://www.camilledimaio.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“There is much in life that is out of our control. The answer is not to give up and crumble. The answer is to find a way around it, no matter the difficulty. No matter how impossible the obstacles.” This was Emma Koehler’s outlook and reason for her miraculous success in steering the San Antonio Brewing company through the storms of Prohibition and the Great Depression, after the scandalous murder of her husband, Otto Koehler, in 1914.

Chug along with Camille Di Maio as she takes young, naive Mabel Hartley on the arduous train trip from Baltimore to San Antonio, Texas. Mabel has been hand picked by Emma Koehler from hundreds of applicants, to listen and record, first hand, Emma’s account of her ideas, successes and the details of Otto’s murder, as she lives out the last days of her life. The morning ‘memory” sessions are laced with 85 year old Emma’s stern demands, which over the days and weeks grow into motherly concerns and sage advice for Mable. As winter turns to spring, Mabel’s interest in the brewing company is sparked and the wall around her heart begins to crack. Camille Di Maio peeks the readers’ historical interests by interspersing the memories of Emma with actual newspaper accounts from around the country and the world: Otto Koehler’s funeral, the “other Emmas” testimony, jury selection, the pending murder trial, and outcomes. The accounting of Emma Koehler’s life story is told graciously and with great respect, for this remarkable woman and her heroic accomplishments are even more inspirational when readers discover the view is actually that of a widow in a wheelchair.

The First Emma is brimming with details of household names such as Anheuser Busch, Lone Star, and Pearl. The details of the San Antonio brewery’s process for making of beer, along with the purchase of recipes and mother yeast from Germany, will have readers reaching for a “cold one” while cheering for Pearl to survive Prohibition and the Great Depression. Readers, especially from Texas, will “cotton to the likes of” references to the Majestic Theater, the Menger Hotel, and the Alamo.

Emma Koehler and her Pearl Brewing Company emerged from Prohibition as one of the only brewing companies not to go out of business. Emma listened to advice of friends in the beer industry and diversified; changing production to ice, ice cream, and even dry cleaning- thus keeping all her employees.

Camille Di Maio has accomplished a Texas sized feat by combining an inspirational and empowering account of Emma Koehler’s Pearl Brewing company success with the murder trial of the century.

Five Stars: Big and Bright, Deep in the Heart of Texas! GR

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And They Called It Camelot : A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Praise for And They Called it Camelot

“And They Called It Camelot is the book club pick of the year. Stephanie Marie Thornton brings an American icon to life: Jackie the debutante, the First Lady, the survivor who at last becomes the heroine of her own story. Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress

And the “praises” just keep on coming! “

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a USA Today bestselling author and a high school history teacher. She lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“You don’t just turn everything beautiful, you turn it to gold!” Jack to Jaqueline

Jackie Kennedy was “our” First Lady; really as close to a queen as Americans would ever get. Her beauty, style and grace were admired and copied by women around the world. Jackie’s intellect, wit and command of languages was impressive and absolutely necessary to Jack and the Kennedy family in his run for the Senate and the Presidency. The devotion and commitment as mother to her children was unmatched and probably sometimes, unknown. The grief she bore during her lifetime is unthinkable. What you think you know of Jackie-the magazine profiles, the evening news clips, the newspaper headlines, countless biographies; even the “tell all” by Maud Shaw, the Nanny to Caroline & John- are just the tip of the iceberg.

Stephanie Marie Thornton takes the reader up that shining hill to a place dubbed Camelot: “November 22, 1963- The pink pillbox hat and Chanel-inspired boucle suit awaited her on the bed.” Readers know what’s coming; still, it’s gut wrenching to keep reading. When news of President Kennedy’s assassination was broadcast, readers of a certain age know the exact location, person who was speaking, and what happened next. What Americans didn’t know was the “middle” leading up to the gruesome ending of the story that was presented as a fairy tale.

Every fairy tale has good and evil elements; along with the element of three or sometimes seven. Stephanie Marie Thornton completes the fairy tale chart with an eye-appealing, rich tableau of family scenes, glittering balls and Oleg Cassini gowns, state dinners and the well documented historic renovations in the White House. The “evil” column includes the dastardly demons that surround Jackie, in the form of family, press, movie stars and even Jack; and of course, her memories. Before a breath can be taken the gut-punch of emotion draining dialogue and shocking behavior of those who are supposed to love her, leave the reader in complete awe as Jackie recovers over and over and over again. Not without a tumultuous toll, for sure.

Stephanie Marie Thornton’s tale of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is filled with characters the reader will applaud and those that deserve resounding “boos!” Unfortunately, the details of the Kennedy assassination and the basic facts are splayed for all to learn or recall. Fortunately, Jackie Kennedy lives on in our minds and memories as a devoted wife, mother, and beloved First Lady. She is known for saving Grand Central Terminal in New York, restoring and protecting the White House, Lafayette Square and Egypt’s temple of Abu Simbel. Miraculously, through all the projects, pain and grief, Jackie found herself and became a survivor.

But, “For one brief shining moment there was Camelot.” Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy November 29, 1963

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Women’s History Month The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood

Tracey Enerson Wood has always had a writing bug. While working as a Registered Nurse, starting an interior design company, raising two children, and bouncing around the world as a military wife, she indulged in her passion as a playwright, screenwriter and short story writer. She has authored magazine columns and other non-fiction, written and directed plays of all lengths, including Grits, Fleas and Carrots, Rocks and Other Hard Places, Alone, and Fog. Her screenplays include Strike Three and Roebling’s Bridge. The Engineer’s Wife is her first published novel.
Other passions include food and cooking, and honoring military heroes. Her co-authored anthology/cookbook Homefront Cooking, American Veterans share Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom, was released in May, 2018, and all authors’ profits will be donated to organizations that support veterans.

COMING APRIL 7, 2020
Available for pre-order now!

“Who really built the Brooklyn Bridge? With its spunky, tough-minded heroine and vivid New York setting, The Engineer’s Wife is a triumphant historical novel sure to please readers of the genre. Like Paula McLain, Tracey Enerson Wood spins a colorful and romantic tale of a storied era.” – Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset

“The Engineer’s Wife is historical fiction at its finest.” – Andrea Bobotis, author of The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

http://traceyenersonwood.com/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Designing and building a bridge is quite a feat-even for an engineer and all the skilled laborers involved. But especially for the “engineer’s wife!”

Washington D.C. 1864- At a ball attended by Union soldiers, Miss Emily Warren is introduced to Captain Washington Roebling. The rest, as they say, is history. Washington Roebling had already worked with his German father to design and build a bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio and announced at the ball that they would be designing an even grander bridge connecting New York and Brooklyn.

That fateful night links the two families, including their “baggage.” Emily and “Wash” embark on a journey to not only survive the Battle of Gettysburg, but to continue as man and wife working side by side to build the Brooklyn Bridge. Wash’s father, Papa, sends them to Germany, France, and England to learn the latest technology in underwater foundation. Readers will delight in the Roeble’s travels to see the architecture of Christopher Wren at the Royal Navy Observatory, and in Scotland, the new clipper ship being made ready for launch, the Cutty Sark. By 1869 in order to raise funds and improve public relations, Papa has arranged meetings with consultants: engineers, political leaders, and the contractor William Kingsley. Straddling the political lines, the stock market investors, and the railroad engineers turns into quite an undertaking for the now ailing Wash and his suffragette wife, Emily. The infusion of trigonometry, geometry, chemistry, physics, and architectural concepts combined with the daily struggles of financially continuing the bridge building as a woman, makes for not only an educational experience for Emily, but an emotional journey as she explores her own feelings for Wash and the infamous, PT. Barnum. Yes, him.

Tracey Wood constructs a perfect blend of history and science; and readers will easily relate to the relationships and memories that haunt both Emily and Wash- the physical and emotional turmoil that shadow a soldier and his wife. Will Emily follow her heart or her brain?

The Engineer’s Wife will transport readers with a bit of anxiousness as bridge laborers live and die; marriages are taxed, presidents come and go and women fight for the right to vote-all while perched with a bird’s eye view of the progress on the stone towers and wired cables of a bridge spanning the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Nothing is simple. Face that fear of heights- Emily did. Climb the tower and read Tracey Wood’s The Engineer’s Wife! GR

“The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City, spanning the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing across the East River.”

After completing The Engineer’s Wife and reading the Author’s Notes, here’s a fun list of facts and information about the famed Brooklyn Bridge. Enjoy! GR https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/68463/15-facts-about-brooklyn-bridge-you-wont-fuhgeddaboud

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The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

The Yellow Bird Sings is Jennifer Rosner’s debut novel. She is the author of the memoir If A Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and Be Heard, and the children’s book, The Mitten String. Her writing has appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. Jennifer lives in western Massachusetts with her family.”

“A mother. A child. An impossible choice.

Poland, 1941. After the Jews in their town are rounded up, Róza and her five-year-old daughter, Shira, spend day and night hidden in a farmer’s barn. Forbidden from making a sound, only the yellow bird from her mother’s stories can sing the melodies Shira composes in her head.

Róza does all she can to take care of Shira and shield her from the horrors of the outside world. They play silent games and invent their own sign language. But then the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must face an impossible choice: whether to keep her daughter close by her side, or give her the chance to survive by letting her go.” Goodreads

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Beauty will save the world,” – The hope and optimism shared from mother to daughter.

Roza and Shira are running for their lives; fighting the memories of the killing and devastation of families and homes. With the chilling descriptions the reader is left wondering how in the midst of such tragedy does a mother find the fortitude to keep going? In Jennifer Rosner’s own words: “to fight the sting in her thighs, the rolling bile in her stomach, the biting cold at her nose and cheeks and fingertips. She pushes on despite the pain and atrophy, despite her acute desire to stop and rest. She tries to outrun her loss.”

Jennifer Rosner’s detailed descriptions take the reader on a roller coaster of the senses. Through her deftly chosen words the reader cringes at the sting of the biting cold, the pungent, rotting smells of the barn and the itchy hay and stiffness of legs and arms. Just at the right moment the reader reaches the crest and is lifted and encouraged as the memories of those glorious and melodic sounds of violins, cellos and music halls are shared. Then oh so quickly, plunged and jerked back to the dreaded fear of being found and shot. The “death defying ride” is worth it in the end.

This emotional tale of a mother’s love and her daughter’s devotion is intricately and indelibly woven with a ‘fairy tale of hope;” told by Roza so that Shira remains perfectly still and quiet. It’s her story of how an imaginary yellow bird sings in a garden of daisies- perfect for weaving garlands for princesses, and magical music that helps the flowers bloom. Of course, every fairy tale must also include an element of evil: the “boot stomping” giants and beasts that are to be feared.

This debut novel rotates between Roza’s frantic search for Shira, and the stoic quest of a daughter to rejoin her mother. The rubble and chaos of war is mixed with the tuning of violins and ecstasy of concertos; leaving the reader breathless, anxiously awaiting the crescendo.

Jennifer Rosner’s The Yellow Bird Sings is indeed a true “symphony!” GR

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The Paris Orphan The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

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

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

Read Chapters 1-3

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

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

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel

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

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

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

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galveston Historic District
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The Lost Daughter

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

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

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

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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