Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers

Wow! I had this book for a while via Net Galley, but only got to it last week. Once I started it, I could not stop and read it in almost one sitting. It was a really intriguing Civil War story, told through various voices and documents – letters, diary entries, court reports – in various voices across years.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a story of this era, along with some mystery and lots of details that are true to fact!

I have to say, that I never have read a lot from the point of view of a Southern woman trying to keep her farm going doing the War. Every day was a battle of survival, and while this is understandable, the way this novel is written, the facts are so bare and gritty that it shed a new light for me on women’s experience.

Thank you for my e-copy to review!

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GLORY OVER EVERYTHING by Kathleen Grissom

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I really enjoyed THE KITCHEN HOUSE, so I was thrilled when GLORY OVER EVERYTHING – Beyond the Kitchen House – came up on Net Galley. This novel essentially continues the story begun in THE KITCHEN HOUSE. (see my review of that here )

Here’s what Net Galley had to say about GLORY OVER EVERYTHING:

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HF Review: OUR OWN COUNTRY by Jodi Daynard

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A while ago I read THE MIDWIFE’S REVOLT by Jodi Daynard and really enjoyed it: My Review. I was excited to find this new novel with some of the same characters in it on Net Galley.

Here’s the description:

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Review: THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the HF Virtual Book Tours blog tour for the promotion of the book THE GOLDEN PATHWAY by Donna M. McDine and illustrated by K. C. Snider.

This story is written for children and is about a young boy’s experience during the Civil War. Young David lives in a violent home, and he befriends his family’s slave, Jenkins. One night he gets a chance to help Jenkins escape on the Underground Railroad. Will he take the risk to help his friend?

This is a very short story — picture book style and less than 20 pages. The copy I read was a hardcover/library binding edition. I kept thinking how this would be a wonderful edition to the classroom: David’s story is a great jumping off point to start to discuss the Civil War, slavery, the Underground Railroad, and basic human rights. It is aimed at younger elementary-aged readers, and I plan to have my children read it as a way to start a discussion on slavery and the Civil War (which they’ve learned about some in school, but still find puzzling and highly disturbing). 

Author Donna McDine is an award-winning author with several books to her credit. You can read more about her at http://www.donnamcdine.com. THE GOLDEN PATHWAY is published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thank you, Amy, for making me part of your book tour!

 

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Review: THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd

Oh my. This is a book I can hardly do justice to. It will truly be on my “Best of 2014” list this year!

I loved Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES (and I enjoyed her other two books as well), so I was very excited to get an ARC of her new publication THE INVENTION OF WINGS from Net Galley.

This historical novel tells the story of Sarah Grimké, a young girl of Charleston, SC. Starting in the 1830’s. Sarah receives a personal slave, a young girl named Handful (Hetty), as a gift for her eleventh birthday, and upsets her parents by trying to grant her her freedom. Young Sarah dreams of being a lawyer. Plain and intelligent, she doesn’t fit with the Southern belles of her peer group. She forms a friendship with Handful and almost immediately gets them both into serious trouble when she teaches Handful to read. The story follows Sarah, and Handful, as they grow up and become adults. Sarah evolves (along with her younger sister Angelina) into a passionate abolitionist and worker for women’s rights. Handful and her mother dream of one day being free.

While I loved this story, I was absolutely amazed to discover that Sarah Grimké and her sister Angelina were real people and that Sue Monk Kidd had based her novel on historical facts. How had I never heard of them?? This is a story that must be told. If you enjoy historical fiction, women’s studies, Civil War genre, and/or basically strong female protagonists who are based in reality, then you will enjoy this well-written and well-researched book.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. Thanks, Net Galley and Viking, for my copy! Looks like it’s a pick for Oprah’s Book Club, too.

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Review: THE LAST RUNAWAY by Tracy Chevalier

I’ve read all of Tracy Chevalier’s books, so I was excited to get THE LAST RUNAWAY from Amazon as a treat for myself (SOME SPOILERS AHEAD). In this interesting take on the pre-Civil War experience, Honor Bright, an English Quaker, has come to Ohio with her sister who is to marry. Sadly her sister dies during the journey and Honor arrives alone, with few prospects and only knowing her was-once-to-be-brother-in-law. She first stays in town with a milliner, Belle, who is as saucy and tough as she is kind-hearted. Honor sews for her and rests up before the rest of her journey. However, Belle’s brother, Donovan, is lurking around. He’s a slave catcher and he is relentless in his job. Honor finds herself strangely drawn towards him, while she is at the same time repulsed by his heartless undertakings.

When Honor finally arrives at the was-once-to-be-brother-in-law’s house, his brother has also just died and the widow is keeping house with him. Since two’s company and three’s a crowd, Honor jumps at the chance of marrying a kind Quaker man (Jack Haymaker) and joins his family of dairy farmers: a surly mother and a quiet, unfriendly sister. But Honor is still thinking about the runaway slaves that she sees coming through Ohio, and she wants to help. This causes a huge conflict with her family, because of past difficulties they suffered for helping slaves escape. Will Honor follow her conscious? Or will she bend to the will of the Haymakers? And what will become of the tension between her and Donovan?

As mentioned before, I’ve read all of Chevalier’s books, but this one seems different to me. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but the writing seemed simpler (not that that’s a bad thing, just an observation). I liked this story and I certainly kept reading, but – to be honest – sometimes Honor Bright irritated me. She seemed to just go through the motions of life (until the end), while men regularly fall in love with her and women are jealous of her. She is meek and passive and then does what she wants. She retreats into silence for a while to basically punish her family. She leaves her husband and ultimately makes him chose the life he’s carved out for himself or life with her. I found her selfish and self-centered and immature. The ending held some brightness to it, and I had hope that Honor would go on and become more woman and less girl.

Fans of Chevalier or of mid-1800’s US historical fiction will most probably enjoy this novel!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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Review: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Trolling through Net Galley, I found this great read (its been out since 2010). “Yellow Crocus” is the story of a young girl, Lisbeth Wainwright, and her beloved childhood nurse, the slave Mattie. Lisbeth is given to Mattie shortly after birth for nursing (Mattie is taken from her own little son, Samuel) and she grows to love Mattie more than her own mother. Mattie loves Lisbeth in turn, and struggles to seek freedom for her family. In time, Mattie is sent back to the slave quarters and Lisbeth tries to become the young woman that her family and Antebellum Southern society demands of her. In time she must make a life-changing decision – a decision that will affect her family’s life going forward.

I just loved this book! I love reading about this period in history, and I wished the book had continued to and through the Civil War as I was hoping to see Mattie’s character develop through adulthood and into old age. At times in the beginning of the book it felt a little bogged down with totally accurate but minute details of breast-feeding – it pulled me from the flow of the story a bit. Overall, though, I loved the characters, the writing, and the storyline.

Thanks, Net Galley and Flaming Chalice Press for my copy!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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