#throwbackthursday America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

April 2, 2020

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie….a favorite histfic read. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

America's First Daughter by Staphanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (coveer)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, U.S. History, Biographical

My Summary:

Sacrifice … Devotion … Hardship … Privilege … Grit

A fast-paced read, this well-researched novel draws from thousands of letters and original sources as it tells the story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. Patsy shares her father’s devotion to their country and becomes his partner, protector, and loyal companion after the death of her mother. As a young girl, she travels with him to Paris when he becomes the American minister to France, and it is here she eventually learns of his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave girl about her own age. According to the authors, it’s during these Paris years that Patsy falls in love with William Short, her father’s assistant and protégé who is an abolitionist and aspiring diplomat. Patsy is torn between love, principles, and family loyalty, and she questions whether she can be married to William and remain devoted to her father. Filled with thoughtful themes, this is a story of sacrifice and grit as Patsy tirelessly protects her father’s reputation and supports him as he guides and leads the nation he helped found.

Click here to continue reading my review of America’s First Daughter….

QOTD: Have you read America’s First Daughter or is it on your TBR?

The Girl in White Gloves: A Review

February 25, 2020

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher (cover)

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #netgalley #berkleypub for a free e ARC of #thegirlinwhitegloves by Kerri Maher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In this highly fictionalized biographical historical fiction of the life of an American actress turned princess, we get a glimpse into Grace Kelly‘s childhood dreams, her rise to fame, and her eventual royal life as Princess of Monaco.

 

Hollywood Actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly (head shot)

Image Source: Wikipedia

Grace Kelly smiling and waving (wearing white gloves)

Image Source: Beyond Grace Kelly

My Thoughts:

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Lady Clementine: A Review

January 10, 2020

 Lady Clementine: by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine review

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, WW1 and WW11, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thanks #netgalley #sourcebooks #sbkslandmark for a free e ARC of #ladyclementine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

Clementine Churchill is the devoted wife, partner, and best friend of Winston Churchill. Lady Clementine is brilliant, ambitious, innovative, and fascinating, and she devotes all her energy and loyalty to her husband and country.

My Thoughts:

An underappreciated woman in history….

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Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women: A Review

November 14, 2019

 Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight

Ribbons of Scarlet Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, French Revolution, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!

Six masterful storytellers collaborate to share the experiences of seven unforgettable women of The French Revolution. During the Revolution, these courageous and determined women felt compelled to speak up and exert their influence wherever they could. Even though these are six separate stories, some passionate convictions and ideas connect them.

My Thoughts:

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The Women of the Copper Country: A Review

October 10, 2019

Annie Clements is called “America’s Joan of Arc”

The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

The Women of Copper Country Revieew

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Michigan, Mining, Activism, Biographical, Union

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In July of 1913, twenty-five-year-cold Annie Clements has seen enough of the unfair working conditions in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan and decides it’s time to fight for a change. The men who work in the copper mines endure long hours, dangerous conditions, and low wages. Annie organizes and encourages the women to support a strike, but she also faces possible imprisonment, her husband’s anger, and personal threats. The Women of the Copper Country is a fictionalized account of the courageous efforts of women to organize a strike in the early history of the labor movement.

My Thoughts:

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The Vanished Bride: A Review

September 10, 2019

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

The Vanished Bride Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thank you #netgalley #berkleypublishinggroup for the free e-copy of #thevanishedbride by @brontemysteries (Bella Ellis) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

The Vanished Bride is the highly imagined story of the famous Bronte Sisters before they were authors. In 1845, when all four Bronte siblings return home to live with their father (for various reasons), Charlotte, Emily, and Anne hear about the disappearance and suspected murder of a young neighbor woman, they decide to become lady detectors and embark on an ambitious endeavor to solve the mystery. Relying on their resourcefulness, determination, energy, wits, cleverness, and creativity, they investigate, interrogate, analyze clues, and follow leads. The sisters need to pursue these activities without drawing attention to themselves because of the expectations for women and their roles at that time. Since they are already intrigued by the idea of becoming authors in a male-dominated field, they are already thinking outside the box and challenging boundaries. Although at times they need to involve their brother, most of the investigation is accomplished without the knowledge of their protective father. Will they solve the mystery of the vanished bride?

My Thoughts:

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love: A Review

March 27, 2019

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

Inheritance Review

Genre/Categories: Non Fiction, Memoir, Ancestry, Bioethics, Jewish

Family secrets….bioethics…..if you send in a DNA sample to Ancestry on a lark, be prepared for truth.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Receiving DNA results from Ancestry propels a determined and persistent Dani Shapiro into a quest for identity and paternity. Shapiro thoughtfully unravels family secrets as she explores the meaning of love versus biology, a new cultural heritage, and family bonds. The story behind Shapiro’s discovery is not what you might expect and I won’t spoil that part of the story for you. You will want to know, though, that the ethical considerations that she brings up are worthy of discussion and careful thought.

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Leadership in Turbulent Times: A Review

February 15, 2019

In recognition of the Presidents’ Birthday Holidays in the United States….

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Leadership in Turbulent Times cover.jpg

Genre/Categories: Non Fiction, Biographical, U.S. Presidents, U.S. History, Government/Politics

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In Leadership in Turbulent Times, Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin explores the topic of leadership. Goodwin provides case studies of four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. As she describes their early lives and follows them into adulthood, she explains how they faced challenges and difficult circumstances and became noted leaders. What traits or skills did they share that helped them become leaders in their time?

Amazon Star Rating (February): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

Leadership. Goodwin sets out to compare and contrast the leadership of four U.S. presidents, but the challenge of studying four vastly different men living in different times and facing unique circumstances is a monumental task. From her material, I gained some insights. Each of the four presidents faced challenges in childhood and their personal lives that might have discouraged them from pursuing their dreams. So the first traits I notice are resilience, determination, and risk taking. Each one had a feeling that he was destined to do more and be more than what his present circumstances would suggest was attainable. It is interesting to me that in our county’s early history, ambitious young men decided that politics was their best opportunity for achievement. In addition, they each cared deeply about the welfare of individual folks and the nation. They each were driven to make a difference and to be remembered for something. Finally, it struck me how each president was gifted in interpersonal communication, exhibited an affable personality, and was an excellent communicator. Overall, each of the presidents was visionary, an innovative problem solver, and thought outside the box. Although they had more differences than similarities, the similarities I mention are a significant part of their leadership traits. I think young people who study these presidents can be encouraged that a difficult childhood or challenging personal circumstances do not have to determine the course of their lives or their leadership potential.

The Presidents. Each president studied is a unique person with a dissimilar background and skill set from the others, yet each became a leader. Noted here are a few facts and insights I gained from the reading. Hopefully, the following details will whet your appetite for reading more about these interesting and famous presidents.

  • Abraham Lincoln was self educated with a great resolve to succeed, sensitive, and deeply empathetic. He is remembered for his ability to promote teamwork and for the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Even though Theodore Roosevelt was privately educated, privileged, and sheltered, he was extremely self disciplined, ambitious, and grew in his ability to work well with others. He is remembered for being a rancher who took risks to build courage, a “rough rider,” for his leadership to resolve the coal miner strike, and for The Square Deal.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, a late bloomer, exhibited warmth and charm and verbal skills, had an optimistic temperament, had a desire to please, was a quick decision maker and masterful problem solver, and demonstrated adaptability. He was known for his leadership during the Depression, his efforts in the banking crisis, Fireside Chats, and The New Deal. Eleanor Roosevelt was a great partner with FDR as she traveled the country taking the pulse of the people (FDR: “Don’t confuse what people in Washington are saying with what people in the country are feeling.”). Women in journalism owe Eleanor a nod of appreciation as she declared that only women journalists were allowed at her press conferences which sent newspapers across the nation scrambling to hire women journalists!
  • Lyndon Johnson, never satisfied and always pushing forward, was driven by the lure of power. It’s thought provoking to compare Lincoln, driven by affiliation and teamwork, and Johnson, driven by power and control. Johnson is known for the Great Society (legislation in Civil Rights, federal aid to education, Medicare, voting rights, etc.). His greatest failure was Viet Nam which laid the foundation for future mistrust of government that we experience today.

All four presidents felt called to public service, and each experienced personal and professional setbacks. While some people quit under these circumstances and others recover somewhat and plod along in life, still others adapt, change, and grow like our four presidents.

Recommended. Leadership in Turbulent Times is highly recommended for all citizens of the U.S. because understanding our history informs our present and affects our future. It is especially recommended for those who enjoy inspiring stories of resilient and determined individuals, for history buffs, and for readers who enjoy personality studies and case studies.

Rating. I can see this is really good, and I know that for others it might be a 5 star read. For a person like myself who didn’t major in history, it’s wonderfully readable, thoughtfully presented, and engaging.  I particularly appreciate that Goodwin includes reflective analysis as well as detailed historical facts. For readers like my husband who have read her other individual biographies of these presidents, some of the material in Leadership will be familiar and might seem repetitive. For me, it was informative and enjoyable, and it put random facts and acquired knowledge into a meaningful context.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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leadership in turbulent times

Leadership in Turbulent Times

Meet the Author, Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin
 
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for LBJ in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. Goodwin earned the Lincoln Prize for the runaway bestseller Team of Rivals, the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film Lincoln, and the Carnegie Medal for The Bully Pulpit, the New York Times bestselling chronicle of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, the writer Richard N. Goodwin. More at http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com @DorisKGoodwin

See my review of Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin.



Let’s Discuss!

Have you read any work of Doris Kearn Goodwin? I’ve read Wait Till Next Year (her memoir) and my husband has read several of her works…. Team of Rivals is a favorite.

What non fiction have you read so far this year? I just finished In Pieces by Sally Field (memoir).



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Look at all these books I’ve read that will be reviewed on the blog in the next few weeks! The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio, In Pieces by Sally Field, Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris, and Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (MG).



Links

The Secret Library Book Blog always has great weekly links! Please check out this reading resource!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

SoCal residents: If you live in or near the Orange or Riverside Counties of Southern California, you might be interested in the Corona Library Author Brunch on April 13.

historical fiction author brunch.jpg



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie! (I also heard that a Beartown series is being produced for Europe HBO…so maybe soon in the US?)

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these four books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Learning To See: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 11, 2019

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

learning to see 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Photography, Internment Camps

Thanks to #WilliamMorrowPB #WilliamMorrowBooks #HarperCollins for my free copy of #LearningtoSee by Elise Hooper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

“It takes a lot of practice to see things are they are, not as you want them to be.”
(P 121)

Summary:

Learning to See is a fictionalized biography inspired by real life photographer, Dorothea Lange. We first meet twenty-two year old Dorothea Nutzhorn in 1918 as she arrives in San Francisco with her best friend. Through wit and a determination to create her own life far from her home in the Northeast, Dorothea changes her name to Dorothea Lange, takes a risk in opening a portrait studio, and marries an older established artist, Maynard Dixon. Dorothea’s portrait studio enjoys success and it provides a steady and dependable income for their growing family of two children. When the economy collapses in the 1930s, economic troubles place tremendous strain on an already fragile marriage and Dorothea desperately seeks out ways to support her two young sons and a drunken, disillusioned, and out-of-work husband. As Dorothea’s portrait business declines in the economy, she begins to take pictures of the poor and desperate people on the streets of San Francisco. In addition, she travels throughout California and the Southwest documenting labor conditions on farms, gradually realizing that these pictures are more meaningful than what she produces in her portrait studio because her pictures from the streets and fields tell a true story of the economic hardships that people are facing. Later, the United States enters WW11 and Dorothea accepts a government job photographing the internment camps into which the Japanese have been placed. Not everyone appreciates seeing the truth of these pictures and she is censored, threatened, and discouraged. This doesn’t deter Dorothea from her travels, her photographs, or her purpose. There’s a dual timeline running through the story which allows the reader to know Dorothea at the end of her life.

My Thoughts:

Writing. Historical fiction fans will be eager to read Elise Hooper’s new work exploring the life of photographer, Dorothea Lange. The extensive research that went into the telling of this story is evident (the author also includes a few of Lange’s photographs at the end of the book). Not only is there an abundance of historical facts and descriptive details which enable readers to feel like they are experiencing life in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, but the author also puts a great deal of effort and thought into building a case for the possible motives that inspire Dorothea to take certain actions. I had a difficult time accepting the decision Dorothea made for the care of her children, but the details in the story left me with a reasonable ability to understand Dorothea’s choices.

Themes. Certainly, some important themes include the plight of working mothers in that time, the hardships of the depression, marriage to someone who is not a full or dependable partner, loyal friendship and support from other women, making difficult decisions to follow your dreams/passions and accepting the consequences of that decision, taking risks, the effects of childhood experiences on adults, and character traits of pioneers.

More Than an Artist. Dorothea Lange is remembered today for her photography work and her indomitable spirit and determination. I think you’ll enjoy the historical setting and this imagined story of her life behind the facts. Throughout the story, the title of Learning to See takes on multiple meanings. As an artist, Dorothea is not afraid to photograph what she actually sees and not what others want or expect to see. As a mother and wife, Dorothea sees (or intuits) the emotional help her troubled son needs, and she also sees the truth of her marriage to Maynard. Dorothea sees injustice and has a vision for meaningful work, and she is willing to take the risks to follow her passion despite the sacrifices. She is not afraid of hard work or activism, and perseveres in spite of obstacles.

“I was a photographer of people–men, women, and children who worked, suffered, rested, and loved. …. I lived for the moment when time slowed, when I could capture an expression or gesture that communicated everything. I needed more of those moments. If I was going to give up my family, every second needed to count. The sacrifice had to be worth something bigger than me.” (p 179)

Recommended. I love stories of real women, and even though Dorothea might not be the most well liked person, I’m highly recommending Learning to See for fans of well written and extensively researched historical fiction, for readers who are looking for a story of a strong, independent, and pioneering woman, and for those who want an engaging page turner. Learning to See is nicely paced with well drawn characters, and some readers might want to know that it includes some romantic details. It would make a good book club selection because of interesting discussion topics.

If you might enjoy reading more histfic about Japanese Internment Camps, I suggest The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Additional Information. The following links are a sampling of what’s available about Dorothea Lange on YouTube:

Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life

American Masters: Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange Biography

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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Learning to See

Learning to See

Pub Date: January 22, 2019

For my review of Elise Hooper’s first book, The Other Alcott, click here.

Meet the Author, Elise Hooper

Elise Hooper

Although a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise now lives with her husband and two young daughters within stone-skipping distance of the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound. When she’s not writing, she’s in her classroom making American history and literature interesting for high school students.

She’s drawn to historical figures, especially women, who linger in the footnotes of history books yet have fascinating stories waiting to be told.

Please learn more: http://www.elisehooper.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisehooperauthor/
Instagram: elisehooper
Twitter: @elisehooper



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson.

meet me at the museum

I’m also reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a work in progress and review date TBD)

leadership in turbulent times



Links

Check out Hillsdale College Free Online Courses

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these three books on your winter to read list in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Tell me about your reading preference. Do you appreciate a fictionalized biography or would you rather read a narrative non fiction account of a person’s life?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

October’s Most Compelling Character

October 30, 2018

compelling character

Each month I bring you a most compelling or unforgettable character of the month. In October’s last days I’d like to remind you of Lale Sokolov, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Lale is the main character in the first book I read in October and no character has come close to over taking Lale as the most memorable character of the month.

Tattooist of Auschwitz 2

Find more information about The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris here.

Find the full review of The Tattooist of Auschwitz here.

Meet Lale Sokolov

Lale in his own words.

Lale is a Slovakian Jew who survived Auschwitz with cunning, determination, courage, a positive attitude, a winsome personality, a hopeful spirit, and his true love. He takes risks to help others and generously sacrifices his extra food portions to feed a few who are at risk of dying from starvation. Lale meets the love of his life, Gita, while they are both prisoners at Auschwitz. He assumes the grave responsibility for her safety and promises her a future……. that they will survive and enjoy a life together outside of Auschwitz. He has enough hope, determination, and courage for both of them.

One of the aspects I appreciate about the story is hearing Lale’s honest and candid reflections about what went right and what went wrong and his angst about some of the decisions he made. Most worrisome for him is his concern that he might be seen as working with the Nazis in his role as the tattooist. In addition, he wrestles with guilt over the benefits he receives from that assignment, but then he realizes that the extra freedoms and extra food he receives can be used to help others.

Although the writing is less than beautiful in places, the content, compelling story line, and unforgettable character make this inspiring fictionalized biography a must read. You will never forget him. It’s important to hear as many stories as possible from the survivors while we have them with us. The author spent three years interviewing Lale when, near the end of his life, he finally felt compelled to tell his story for history.

When reading these types of stories, it causes me to reflect on what I would do in similar circumstances. Would I have the courage to be a Lale and risk everything to help others, and could I have held on to the hope of survival in a Nazi prison?



Please share your most memorable character from your October reading in the comments.



I’ll be back tomorrow with my October Wrap Up!



Happy Halloween to everyone celebrating!
pumpkins

Image from Pottery Barn