Posted in 19th Century America Civil War Reviews

review: Mercer Girls

Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker In 1864, founder of the University of Washington, Asa Mercer, left the Territory in search of young, single women willing to make the treacherous journey from the East Coast of the United States to the Pacific Northwest. While Mr. Mercer did not hide the fact that honorable women were needed for marriage–the population in Washington was 9/10ths male–they were also offered respectable employment. The three women who narrate this story each have a different reason for joining the expedition, and as their stories unfold they find that though they are dissimilar in many ways, the journey binds them together like sisters. Josephine (Jo) is the oldest at age 35, and has joined the Mercer Girls under mysterious circumstances that play…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century America Southern Fiction

Southern Historical Novels by Steven D. Ayres

Fallow Are the Fields This is an American Civil War novel, about young Steven Jett, his four older brothers, sister, mother and father, living on a small farm near Salt Springs, Georgia, just west of Atlanta in the middle 1800’s. From humble beginnings, this story takes you on a real life adventure, as the great war ravages across the country-side of North Georgia and changes the lives of these and all Americans forever. We Danced Until Dawn We Danced Until Dawn is the sequel to the l800’s family saga of Fallow Are the Fields. After the tragic and triumphant end of the American Civil War, a new beginning took hold all across America and changed the lives of Steven Jett and his family once again….

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Posted in 19th Century America Civil War Reviews

review: Lincoln and His Boys

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells illustrated by P. J. Lynch This children’s chapter book, aimed at ages 8 – 12 years, is an easy read at 96 pages and features beautiful full-page illustrations. It begins in 1859 in the voice of one of Abraham Lincoln’s sons, Willie, who has been allowed to travel with his father on a business trip to discuss Lincoln’s running for President of the United States. Later, it follows another son, Tad, when the family is ensconced in the White House. This book shows a side of Abraham Lincoln that you’ll not find in most biographies–viewed through the eyes of his beloved children, and includes the wisdom he imparted to them through the difficult years of the Civil War….

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Posted in 20th Century America Reviews Southern Fiction

review: Page from a Tennessee Journal

Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard Tennessee, 1913. Annalaura Wells is struggling to feed her four children after her husband takes their money and leaves without a word. Months pass as the family desperately tries to work their sharecropped tobacco farm. A bad harvest, combined with less hands to work the land bring trouble when the landowner, Alexander McNaughton, discovers the situation. His interest in Annalaura, however, trumps the lost profit on the crop and she finds she has no choice but to give in to his demands if she is to provide for her children. Meanwhile, John Wells is making a tidy sum working a poker game in Nashville. Though his true desires and intentions are lost on Annalaura, he eventually…

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Posted in 19th Century America Reviews Wild West

review: Gone West

Gone West Book Two of the Doc Holliday Trilogy by Victoria Wilcox The second in Wilcox’s Doc Holliday trilogy, this installment follows the legendary dentist-turned-outlaw from Galveston, Texas to Tombstone, Arizona in a series of adventures. Dr. John Henry Holliday doesn’t court trouble, but it seems to find him in every town, from Texas to Colorado and Kansas to the New Mexico territory. He continually tries to set up a respectable office, but his hot-headed Southern sensibilities usually get the better of good judgment, landing him in one legal battle after the other. The state of the government during the Reconstruction Era is tenuous, causing many men to turn to gambling or other illegal means to make a living. Doc, while not robbing banks or…

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Posted in 19th Century America Reviews

review: To See Your Face Again

To See Your Face Again 2nd in the Savannah Quartet by Eugenia Price In this second installment of the Savannah Quartet by Eugenia Price, set more than a decade later, we follow Natalie Browning from a shipwreck in the Atlantic to the wilds of northwest Georgia. Mark and Caroline Browning, Eliza Mackay and her brood, Osmund Kott and many other characters make an appearance, as well as new faces on the trip to Cass County, Georgia. Natalie, a strong-willed, spoiled 16-year-old, meets and falls in love with the only man who has ever rebuffed her affections—Burke Latimer, a master carpenter who has just lost everything aboard the sinking ship. He leaves her in the care of a North Carolina gentleman and takes off to rebuild…

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Posted in 19th Century America Reviews

review: Savannah

Savannah by Eugenia Price Beginning a sweeping four book saga, Savannah introduces Mark Browning as a surprising protagonist–young, educated, privileged, and who, despite his upbringing and inheritance, is down-to-earth, monetarily savvy and eagerly looking for a place to call home. This he finds when he decides to leave his life in Philadelphia and start over in the city of his mother’s birth, and in which his late father had revered: Savannah, Georgia. On the voyage to Savannah, Mark meets the man who would become his confidante and mentor, Robert Mackay, a prominent Savannah businessman. Mackay and his wife Eliza–who are in fact based on real people–immediately take Mark into their care, becoming the family he’d always craved and setting the foundation of this entire book…

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Posted in 19th Century America Reviews

review: Work of Art

Work of Art: Love and Murder in 19th Century New York by Ginger Myrick Del Ryan is a young Irish immigrant eking out a living for herself and her invalid mother by serving as a companion to an aging socialite. She has little in life, but nonetheless is happy with her humble existence, enjoying friendship with her fellow workers and a few neighbors, as well as her sometime hobby of drawing and painting. She never thought her world would change, and in such an extraordinary way, when she meets Cillian Arthur–an upper class gentleman who is seemingly perfect and somehow decides to court the impoverished girl from the rough and dangerous Irish neighborhood, Five Points. While Jimmy Sheehan, Del’s childhood friend, and Cillian vie for…

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Posted in 19th Century America Civil War Reviews

review: But for the Grace of God

BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD by Ginger Myrick While the American Civil War rages near her isolated Virginia farm, Hannah Deane Carter finds a wounded Confederate soldier collapsed and near death. With the help of her father’s former medical assistant—Jeb, who also happens to be a free black man—she nurses him back to health. They are both hiding secrets and wary of each other from the start, but through many weeks convalescing (and the author’s use of flashback storytelling) the pair form a bond that will test the boundaries of trust, honor and love. Hannah is a sympathizer who operates a safe-house for runaway slaves, while the gentleman solider, Beau, is being pursued by his own men under mysterious circumstances. Their future together hangs…

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Posted in 20th Century America Reviews

review: Roses

Roses by Leila Meacham Spanning eight decades (1910’s-1980’s) and chronicling three affluent families in a fictional East Texas town, this is an immense and engrossing story that holds the reader’s attention from start to finish. The Tolivers farm cotton; The Warwicks process lumber; and the DuMonts bring the town of Howbutker fine retail goods. The families have a long history dating back to The Wars of the Roses in England, and as such they have a code of roses. Red roses symbolize the asking of forgiveness, white is the accepting of forgiveness, and pink is a refusal of forgiveness. The families have a tradition of never giving each other financial support, as that would make one in the other’s debt and the proud families would…

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Posted in 20th Century America Reviews

review: The Storycatcher

The Storycatcher by Ann Hite Ann Hite, 2012 Georgia Author of the Year returns us to Black Mountain with her latest novel, The Storycatcher. Shelly Parker finds herself being stalked by the ghost of a woman who disappeared generations before and eventually learns that a storycatcher spirit is trying to unravel a series of events to right wrongs both current and decades old. From Sapelo Island, Georgia to Black Mountain, North Carolina the story intertwines the lives of six women bound by violent men in life, and some in death. Through the author’s unique multi-narrator style, we meet Ada Lee Tine, a descendant of Sapelo Island slaves, Maude Tuggle, the sensible scientific-minded healer who doesn’t believe in ghosts, Armetta Lolly, the post-Civil War missing woman,…

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Posted in 19th Century America Reviews

review: Shame the Devil by Debra Brenegan

Shame the Devil by Debra Brenegan Fanny Fern, 19th Century American literary wit and prolific author, spoke out against inequality through her novels, weekly columns and collections. Though not quite a household name, she was one of the first women to demand a pre-nuptial agreement, started the idea that lead to copyright, and sarcastically coined the phrase, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Born Sarah Willis, Fanny was a spirited child and grew into a sparkling and sassy young woman. Her strict father despaired of her throughout her young life until he handed her off to her first husband, Charles Eldredge. For Fanny, it was a love match, and she spent a few blissful years basking in her freedom as Charly’s…

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