Tag: #historical

Book Review: “Madame Presidentess” by Nicole Evelina

Book Review: “Madame Presidentess” by Nicole Evelina

It’s election season 2016 and as we look to the possibility of electing a female president for the first time, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read this book, “Madame Presidentess”, about the first woman to run for president in this country. That’s right! Hilary Clinton is not the first woman to RUN for president. That honor belongs to Victoria Woodhull who was a candidate for election in 1872 as an independent. Mrs. Woodhull, sometimes referred to as “Queen Victoria” turns out to be a fascinating character. She did not have an idyllic childhood and certainly did not come from money, but she was passionate about rights for women and never let anybody tell her she couldn’t do something because of her gender. Victoria was the daughter of a con-man who was mean and abusive to his children, but she was determined to have something better. On her way to becoming a presidential candidate she was also the first woman to own a Wall Street brokerage firm. Her naysayers along the way were vicious in their attacks and more than one friend turned against her but she never stopped believing in her cause.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I occasionally enjoy exploring the lesser known corners of history. This book is no exception. I found the life of Victoria Woodhull to be fascinating and the author has done an excellent job in telling it. I have to say that I’ve never really given too much thought to the feminist movement before the 20th century and this book really opened my eyes to the work that was being done by women starting in the 2nd century of this country. Victoria Woodhull and her fellow suffragists didn’t get to see all the fruits of their labor during their lifetimes but I suspect that they look down with pride at what has been accomplished with the groundwork they laid. While the reader may not agree with everything she espoused (do any of us ever agree 100% with another person’s views), she is nevertheless a hero of the women’s movement in the United States and should be remembered as such. I highly recommend this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Isa has just found out that her parents are not really her parents. Her birth mother has been in a coma for 20 years and has woken up, only to die just as Isa sees her for the first time. Then Isa is attacked in the hospital bathroom by an unknown assailant. When she discovers a picture hidden in her mother’s watch she can no longer resist the urge to find out everything she can about this mysterious woman. Her quest will take her all over Europe, to big cities and small towns, and put her life in danger. Along the way she will uncover deeply guarded secrets and her strength will be tested again and again.

This is a fast-paced book with lots of twists and turns. Isa and Mark are well developed characters, but Isa is not the most likeable person. She’s brash and harsh and doesn’t trust easily but as her story unfolds her personality begins to make sense. Mark, on the other hand, is very likeable. He defends Isa from the first moment he sees her and before the journey is over will put his life on the line for her. I think this book will appeal to young adults but history lovers may also enjoy this book because of the historical context of the story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review:  “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Book Review: “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Goodreads blurb:
Amid the turbulent 1960s arises an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and death in the ever-historic Charleston, South Carolina. As marine maverick Mike Romano steps off the naval base, he has no inkling of what civilian life has in store for him. After retrieving his wife from his hometown of New York City, he launches a new career as an insurance salesman, with a fire for putting the past behind him and achieving great success.

But Mike quickly finds himself hawking burial insurance and collecting weekly premiums in a predominately black ghetto. This isn’t what he had envisioned, but the exposure ignites a different kind of internal flame—one that is quiet but strong. It gets him involved in a political group intent on positive social change, which introduces him to a fascinating, wealthy, older woman with high political ambitions who sets her sights on him. As his involvement in the civil rights movement intensifies, so does the groundswell against the Vietnam War. Tensions rise along with racial hostility, murders, bombings, and burnings, and Mike soon realizes that America is no longer the country he once swore to defend.

Experience these historical and iconic events, through the life of one passionate man in search of personal fulfillment and public justice.

My thoughts:
I found this story to be a fascinating look at a critical time in our nation’s history. Not having grown up in the south, I have to say I was rather blissfully unaware of the issues of racism and prejudice in our country until as an adult I went to school in Tennessee. I found Mike to be very effective at delineating the issues when he and his wife faced them. Since he was from New York, and in the beginning of the story, new to Charleston, I think he was able to see the broader picture and how the mindset of segregation in the South was holding back the forward movement of the country. I also think that given what our country is going through now, it is nice to be reminded of the progress that we have made and the struggle we went through to get this far. The author did a great job not only with presenting the themes of the story, but also of describing Charleston as it was at the time, from the sweeping mansions to the tenements, the reader gets a view of the whole of the city. I would recommend this book to any reader of fiction and lovers of a good story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

The Greek demigod Helen comes to life under the skillful craftsmanship of Amalia Carosella. This book is the second in the author’s series about Helen of Sparta. “By Helen’s Hand” picks up Helen’s story at the point where she has been rescued by her brothers from the city of Athens. While in Athens she had married Theseus and become queen of that city. Helen is still determined to choose her own fate instead of letting the gods dictate her destiny. She convinces her father to host a series of competitions for the men who wish to marry her. It is Helen’s hope that the winner will be anybody other than Menelaus, but the gods intervene again and she finds herself in a loveless marriage, desperately hoping that Theseus will return from Hades to rescue her. Will Helen be able to thwart the will of the gods, or will her nightmares, full of violence and destruction, come true?

I really enjoyed how the author brought the myth of Helen to life. She gave her a depth of character and conviction that the myths, in their brevity, can never convey. The story itself has lots of surprises and twists thrown in to keep the reader guessing, until the end, what the final outcome will be. This is the first book by this author that I have read but I will definitely be looking for more from her. This book is an obvious choice for lovers of Greek mythology but I think any reader who enjoys intrigue and drama in an historical setting will find lots to like in this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Review: “Victoria Crossing” by Michael Wallace

Review: “Victoria Crossing” by Michael Wallace

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction

“Victoria Crossing” is the story of Victoria MacPherson, a young Irishwoman who emigrates to the U.S. during the potato famine. After losing all of her family, she embarks solo on the arduous journey across the sea. On the way she meets Maeve, whose mother has died on the ship. Maeve is traveling on the hope that her brother will meet her in New York. When the promised brother is not there the girls are forced to make their own way in a city that is openly discriminatory against its Irish immigrants. But Victoria is driven to succeed in spite of all her setbacks. After being robbed of what little money she had on her arrival, the girls find themselves in a rat-infested tenement, but they quickly pick up sewing jobs and Victoria soon has dreams of owning her own shop. Along the way the make friends and enemies, who deliberately try to destroy them, and learn the ways of business. When Maeve’s brother finally appears the girls are encouraged, but tragedy soon strikes. Will this determined girl be able to start over and achieve her dream? Or, will the city beat her down?

I really enjoyed this story. I especially like the way the author was able to point up not only the difficulties and discrimination that the Irish faced when arriving in the U.S., but the conflict within the Irish community between the Catholics and the Protestants. Victoria and Maeve are very well developed as characters in the story. After reading the story I felt like I had a greater understanding of the impact of the famine and the political conflicts on the rank and file of the Irish citizenry. I also really enjoyed the author’s portrayal of the city of New York at the time. The rapid growth it was experiencing made for many opportunities for success but there was also treachery lurking not too far beneath the surface which made for very satisfying dramatic moments. Overall, this is a very enjoyable read especially for lovers of historical fiction.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: “Sky Rivals” by Adam L. Penenberg

Book Review: “Sky Rivals” by Adam L. Penenberg

This book will take your breath away! There are so many thrills that reading this story is like riding a roller-coaster. Having been born into a flying family, I have always admired the pioneers of aviation and the risks they would take just to see if it could be done. The two rival pilots in this story, Wiley Post and Jimmie Mattern, were the best of their day. During this Golden Age of Aviation, pilots were competitive but also willing to help each other out. Jimmie and Wiley were determined to beat each other at circumnavigating the world, but only one can be the winner. This is their story.

Adam Penenberg has done a fabulous job of telling this story. You will be right there in the cockpit with these guys, and it’s a thrill. These two were flying around the world before there were instruments to tell you where you were. They get lost and found and lost again, and they have the whole world waiting to see if they will be heard from again. Sometimes they go days without contact, living on chewing gum and tomato juice. And Wiley is doing it with just one eye. I think everybody should read this book but it will be especially appealing to aviation history buffs or lovers of thrilling stories.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!!

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Book Review: “Children of Earth and Sky” by Guy Gavriel Kay

Book Review: “Children of Earth and Sky” by Guy Gavriel Kay

A journey fraught with danger, intrigue and political manipulations. That’s what you will find in “Children of Earth and Sky”. The story is inspired by events that took place in Renaissance Europe and is a marvelous piece of fiction.

Danica is looking for revenge for the family she lost. Marin is seeking to build his family’s fortune. The city-state of Seressa wants to spy on their neighbors. Pero is a young man desperately wanting to make a name for himself as an artist. Neven has been trained to be a soldier for the Khalif, but is that really who he is? These characters and others have lives that will intertwine with each other and influence world events.

I found the story and the characters to be complex and very well developed. The author has a style that draws the reader into the world he has created and keeps him engaged until the end. I enjoyed this story in part because it tells the story of ordinary people, as opposed to focusing on a royal family or a high ranking political figure. This epic story also highlights how something a person does, which may seem inconsequential in the moment, can have a long-reaching effect on the future. Top marks to Guy Gavriel Kay for this sweeping saga.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!

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Project Gutenberg Pick!

Book Review: “Winesburg, Ohio: Intimate histories of everyday people” by Sherwood Anderson

Every once in a while I like to read something old but still good. This book was originally published in 1922 and is now available for free on Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org). I found the stories in this book to be delightful. Each story depicts the life of a different member of the community of Winesburg, Ohio. Winesberg is a rural community but also the county seat and host to the annual county fair. What draws the stories together is that each individual portrayed has some kind of encounter with George Willard, a young man whose parents run the local hotel. George works as a reporter for the local paper. The book is a work of fiction but I couldn’t help but think that at least some of these characters are based on real people. The individuals are male and female, young and old, and many are downright eccentric. They are wealthy and poor, and of high and low social standing. And there are plenty of scandals running through this group.

The author’s writing style is very readable and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories. If you are looking for something a little different to read, I would suggest this book. I find it can be refreshing to take a break from the drama that tends to characterize modern day books, and there are some real gems in these old books.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Get it on Project Gutenberg!

Book Review: “Avonelle’s Gift” by Nova Scheller

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookbaby for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

A gripping biography of an American family. This story of the Medling family spans from the late 1800’s to the 1960’s. Virgil and Ethel Medling are both born into difficult circumstances in rural Missouri. Falling in love as teenagers, they marry after Virgil returns from military service in Europe. They picture themselves building the family they never had but when life starts throwing curveballs their resolve begins to falter. The book traces their story as they suffer the death of a child, extramarital affairs, and Virgil’s imprisonment. Along the way Ethel raises their two children. After Ethel’s premature death, Virgil remarries and makes some heart-wrenching choices.

I found this book to be beautifully written. The author’s notes mention a family tradition of story-telling which she has put to good use in telling the story of her ancestors. The characters are vivid and the author does not gloss over their faults in an attempt to make them more likable, but tells their stories with honesty and the clarity that comes with hindsight.

Alinefromabook’s recommendation: THUMBS-UP to a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read. Caution: there are some sex scenes so this may not be appropriate for younger readers.

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Click here to purchase: http://amzn.to/1VU3gZ0

Book Review: “For Dead Men Only” by Paula Paul

Book Review: “For Dead Men Only” by Paula Paul

Thanks to Random House – Alibi and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited when I was offered this book because I love this series. Dr. Alexandra Gladstone and her assistant Nancy are just delightful. In this installment, members of the Freemasons are dying but there are no wounds on their bodies. Constable Snow, the local law enforcement, thinks the deaths are suicides but Dr. Gladstone thinks a murderer is on the loose. Unfortunately, because this is the late 1800’s and Alexandra is female she is legally prohibited from performing autopsies, though she is as qualified as any other doctor. After the first man is found dead, Constable Snow suddenly disappears. Then a second man dies and a third. Dr. Gladstone takes a chance and examines one of the bodies without permission but this just stirs up a mob of villagers who want to kill her. As if that’s not enough, Dr. Gladstone and Nancy are each attacked on the road and Alexandra breaks a leg after falling into a ravine. Will Alexandra survive the night? Will they be able to track down the murderer? Will Constable Snow ever reappear?

This is definitely a compelling read with lots of mystery and thrills thrown in. Paula Paul had created a wonderful group of characters. I especially enjoyed the increased role that Artie and Rob, Dr. Gladstone’s orphaned stable hands, had in this story. They are precocious but fiercely loyal to the women. The storyline is attention getting and well crafted. The author is obviously well acquainted with the time period about which she is writing. I can’t wait for more from this series.

Alinefromabook’s recommendation: TWO THUMBS-UP for another great read. Mystery lovers should really enjoy this one.

Happy Reading!

This book is scheduled for release on April 12, 2016. To pre-order click here: For Dead Men Only: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery