Wish-List 5: Early American Literature

me-iiAmerican History and Literature is of great importance to me. Right now I’m in the middle of studying extensively the War Between the States but often times in my research I need to go back further than that. Doing so gives me a greater understanding of the creation of our great nation, how our government works, how they evolved and what was in the minds of our early settlers and founders. In today’s society, there are so many Americans who do not know their history and do not know what it means to be an American. For many reasons- I won’t go into today-but I will say much of the blame goes to the public school system and our government. We have become a nation of political correctness and we are erasing our history. In my opinion that shows weakness and cowardliness on our part and should be stopped. On Facebook I shared a quote that says, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know where it is today.” The rest of the quote-by Woodrow Wilson-say’s, “…nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

Today’s wish-list is one I am actually putting at the top of my reading pile soon. Some of these works I am familiar with and have read a bit of. Alas, it has been years and I would like to refresh my mind with these readings.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Works of Anne BradstreetThe Works of Anne Bradstreet (John Harvard Library) by Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet, the first true poet in the American colonies, wrote at a time and in a place where any literary creation was rare and difficult and that of a woman more unusual still. Born in England and brought up in the household of the Earl of Lincoln where her father, Thomas Dudley, was steward, Anne Bradstreet sailed to Massachusetts Bay in 1630, shortly after her marriage at sixteen to Simon Bradstreet. For the next forty years she lived in the New England wilderness, raising a family of eight, combating sickness and hardship, and writing the verse that made her, as the poet Adrienne Rich says in her Foreword to this edition, “the first non-didactic American poet, the first to give an embodiment to American nature, the first in whom personal intention appears to precede Puritan dogma as an impulse to verse.”

All Anne Bradstreet’s extant poetry and prose is published here with modernized spelling and punctuation. This volume reproduces the second edition of “Several Poems,” brought out in Boston in 1678, as well as the contents of a manuscript first printed in 1857. Adrienne Rich’s Foreword offers a sensitive and illuminating critique of Anne Bradstreet both as a person and as a writer, and the Introduction, scholarly notes, and appendices by Jeannine Hensley make this an authoritative edition.

Adrienne Rich observes, “Intellectual intensity among women gave cause for uneasiness” at this period–a fact borne out by the lines in the Prologue to the early poems: “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/ Who says my hand a needle better fits.” The broad scope of Anne Bradstreet’s own learning and reading is most evident in the literary and historical allusions of “The Tenth Muse,” the first edition of her poems, published in London in 1650. Her later verse and her prose meditations strike a more personal note, however, and reveal both a passionate religious sense and a depth of feeling for her husband, her children, the fears and disappointments she constantly faced, and the consoling power of nature. Imbued with a Puritan striving to turn all events to the glory of God, these writings bear the mark of a woman of strong spirit, charm, delicacy, and wit: in their intimate and meditative quality Anne Bradstreet is established as a poet of sensibility and permanent stature.

American Colonial WritingAmerican Colonial Writing (Essays) by Mary Rowlandson, William Bradford, John Smith, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Morton, Elena Ortells

This anthology features a selection of works written during the first century of English settlement in the colonies of North America. These texts illustrate the extraordinary depth of colonial writing (chronicles, poetry, captivity narratives, etc.) and help us understand the origins and the future of America and Americans.

The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan: Leadership and Literature in Eighteenth-Century Native America by Samson Occom

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah EquianoThe Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself by Olaudah Equiano, Robert J. Allison (Editor)

Widely admired for its vivid accounts of the slave trade, Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography — the first slave narrative to attract a significant readership — reveals many aspects of the eighteenth-century Western world through the experiences of one individual. The second edition reproduces the original London printing, supervised by Equiano in 1789. Robert J. Allison’s introduction, which places Equiano’s narrative in the context of the Atlantic slave trade, has been revised and updated to reflect the heated controversy surrounding Equiano’s birthplace, as well as the latest scholarship on Atlantic history and the history of slavery. Improved pedagogical features include contemporary illustrations with expanded captions and a map showing Equiano’s travels in greater detail. Helpful footnotes provide guidance throughout the eighteenth-century text, and a chronology and an up-to-date bibliography aid students in their study of this thought-provoking narrative.

Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary RowlandsonNarrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson

In February 1676, during King Philip’s War, the frontier village of Lancaster, Massachusetts, was attacked by a party of Nipmuck Indians and completely destroyed. As relief from Concord approached, the attackers withdrew, taking with them 24 captives, including Mrs. Mary Rowlandson and her three children.

For almost three months the little family was forced to live with their captors and endure exposure to a New England winter.The youngest child, who had been injured during the attack, failed to survive. Eventually ransom was paid and the family released.

Mrs. Rowlandson’s account of her experience was published in 1682. It became a”best-seller” of its day and created a new literary genre, the captivity narrative. Such accounts were in part responsible for the mistrust and hatred of the Indians that plagued the country for centuries. It is also the first publication in English by a woman in the New World.

The Puritan DilemmaThe Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Library of American Biography) by Edmund S. Morgan

Caught between the ideals of God s Law and the practical needs of the people, John Winthrop walked a line few could tread. In every aspect of our society today we see the workings of the tension between individual freedom and the demands of authority. Here is the story of the people that brought this idea to our shores: The Puritans. Edmund Morgan relates the hardships and triumphs of the Puritan movement through this vivid account of its most influential leader, John Winthrop. The titles in the Library of American Biography Series make ideal supplements for American History Survey courses or other courses in American history where figures in history are explored. Paperback, brief, and inexpensive, each interpretive biography in this series focuses on a figure whose actions and ideas significantly influenced the course of American history and national life. In addition, each biography relates the life of its subject to the broader themes and developments of the times.”

Here are the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation-coming soon

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-Coming soon

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired-coming soon

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

The Life of Theseus

amalia-carosella-iiI’d like to welcome Amalia Carosella to layered Pages today to talk with me about Theseus. Amalia graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

 Who is Theseus?

By the time we meet Theseus in HELEN OF SPARTA, he’s a well-established king and hero of Attica and Athens, a champion of Athena. His days of adventuring and raiding are behind him, and he is focused on maintaining the prosperity of his people, which in the past, he had put at risk – for example, when he made Antiope his wife and brought war with the Amazons to Athens. Naturally when he meets Helen, and she asks him for help, it puts him in conflict with his desire to keep the peace he’s worked so hard and long to build for Athens and Attica, but so does the war Helen warns him is coming if he does not help her…

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Theseus believes in Justice and Honor – he’s known for it. And this is a strength and a weakness for him, because any appeals to him on that front are likely to force his hand. He cannot ignore a call for help, if that person has been wronged. He also loves fiercely. His friends, his children, his wives, his people. All of which can be turned into leverage to manipulate him – though because he is a hero and a king, his power to protect those that he loves prevents all but the strongest threats from becoming problematic. Mostly, this results in a very healthy respect for the gods, who have used his love for his family to humble him repeatedly. But he can be caged by his own sense of honor, too, and manipulated by it – even by his closest friends.

What are his habits?

As a youth, he loved to raid – this was a well-respected and expected hobby for a young man of his stature, along with training in the arts of sword, spear, chariot-driving, and war in general. But perhaps because of his power and position in his later years, his greatest habit is restraint. Theseus knows when to make use of blunt force, and when diplomacy is the stronger tool. He knows, too, when to resort to deception, and who to call upon for help when a task is beyond his personal ability to accomplish. He is a man who knows when to delegate and isn’t afraid of dissenting voices. He’s also generally always happy to help his friends and makes it a point of honor to repay them for their help and service in his own times of need.

theseus
Theseus 

What are the emotional triggers of Theseus and how does he act on them?

As stated above, Theseus loves fiercely. He is most sensitive to matters of betrayal and disloyalty, particularly in his romantic relationships during his later years, after the death of his son, Hippolytus and his wife, Phaedra. As a result of those losses, he is that much more protective of his remaining sons, and because of the role the gods played in the whole affair, he’s also deeply pious, in the hopes that he might prevent the loss of the children and loved ones he has left. He feels, to some degree, that he has been cursed in love – that the gods themselves do not love him, and that this makes him a danger to those he loves.

What do you find most fascinating about him?

Everything. Theseus is a bundle of contradictions – not our standard Bronze Age Hero at all. He protects the weak, including slaves, seems to honor women even as he womanizes, is credited for bringing democracy to Athens as a king, and ultimately causes his own self-destruction by helping his best friend to attempt to steal a goddess for a wife. He makes mistakes, and he repeatedly loses everything – from his father, to his wives, to his son, to his entire kingdom, but he picks himself back up and makes lemonade out of lemons over and over again – until he can’t any longer, anyway. One of the thing I love most though, might be his bromance with Pirithous. Pirithous is SUCH a pirate, he’s a typical Bronze Age raider and so irreverent. In some ways, it makes him a perfect best friend/blood brother to Theseus. Kind of an opposites attract situation. And writing them both together in HELEN OF SPARTA and in TAMER OF HORSES was so much fun!

For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Theseus: Source- Wikimedia Commons/Wonders of sculpture HERE

Bookish Happenings & Social Media Mishaps

me-iiIt’s that time again for bookish happenings! Today, I am sharing a few things that have been going on in the world of blogging and at indieBRAG. We are completely drawn into the world of stories and the people who write them. Our passion is to share our love of reading, good reads and our hunt for them. Daily we are exploring social media and various book sites for the next great read.

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This week I was not able to post this post, yesterday. The reason is, I had a marvelous interview with author C.S. Harris on Thursday and so my Cover Crush was posted on Friday. Alas, no time like the present to publish bookish happenings! I few bookish things have been going on this week. I’ve added a few new books to my reading pile and have taken on a few more books to review. Which I need to slow down on that so I can catch up!

 Also, I have been interacting in a few conversations about content on social media. It has been enlightening to say the least. Ha!

For example:

Author Clare Mackintosh asked her followers on Facebook what we like to see authors post about/talk about on social media. My answer. “I am a book blogger and I work in the book industry. I follow and work with a lot of authors. I love it when an author draws themes from their story and post about that. I love the writing quotes and when they support book bloggers. Also, I love the interaction between the author and reader. What I don’t like is when authors post none stop about politics. I’ve seen it get ugly time and time again. One must be careful of that when promoting one’s brand. You can lose a lot of readers that way…”

Now, before you get in a tizzy about authors being citizens and all. I totally get that authors are citizens and have a voice and have the right to express themselves like everyone else. That is great and all, but just know you seriously run the risk of demolishing your “brand” by alienating potential readers and fans-if you’re insulting people for believing differently than you or posting none stop political posts. I don’t recommend doing that. Having said that, I do actually like some political posts-when they are intelligent, insightful and respectful.

Matter of fact, a couple of authors and I on Facebook were discussing talking about the parallels of historical and modern day politics from stories written. Now that was interesting!

I’d like to further add that talking about negative reviews on social media platforms is a bad idea. I don’t recommend it. Here’s why: While some-authors- mention about negative reviews are totally legit. (Meaning, some of the things people say in reviews that have no standing on the story is ridiculous and embarrassing!  I understand why the author would want to vent about it on Facebook to their “friends.”) Just consider you are even then taking a risk in doing so. Now, often times, I do see authors complaining about negative reviews (reviews that make sense) on social media, and it turns into a bully fest and then it carries over into bashing book bloggers/book reviewers in general. NOT cool at all. Here is my advice: Just don’t do it. Period. It does not complement you what-so-ever. On top of that, you run the risk of losing readers or potential book bloggers support and you need us. Just like we need your stories!

Just my two cents.

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Today I want to highlight my interview with C.S. Harris. She has written a story that I feel is the most important works of historical fiction I have read this year thus far. Check out the interview HERE.

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Here is a few of my fellow book blogger’s book highlights for the week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs.

in-a-dark-dark-woodColleen over at A Literary Vacation reviews, In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware HERE.

Magdalena over at, A Bookaholic Swede has a fun cover crush of, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr HERE

Holly over at 2 Kids and Tired Books has a wonderful post called, Пятница Ponderings: He was an example to me HERE.

Heather over at The Maidens Court shares with us her Top 5: Non-Fiction Books Read HERE.

the-alice-networkErin over at Flashlight Commentary reviews a book I’m dying to get my hands on called, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn HERE.

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Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and enjoy your weekend! Happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

A War So Terrible and The Reconstruction of the South

me-iiOne of the writing projects I am working on is an historical thriller that takes place in the present and the past in Atlanta and Madison, Georgia. The story of the past centers around the town of Madison and two families shortly after the civil war, continuing through the new century. This era is known as the Reconstruction of the South. The present story is of a young woman who lives in Atlanta and is connected to those two families of the past in more ways than she could have ever imagined.

My research has not only taken me to the Reconstruction era but many years prior to the civil war. The deeper I go the more I am discovering about how this war is so much more complex than many have ever explored.

Though my story is a work of fiction, I will have many themes and content in the story that are factual. Often times those themes will be uncomfortable but one I am hoping will bring to light to the many attitudes of that period that people today do not want to face or talk about. My research is to understand and my writing is to explore the motivations and the human condition during the hardships from all of the people. 

The books below are the current research books I will be diving into this week.

the-woman-of-the-south-in-war-times-by-matthew-page-andreasWomen of the South in War Times by Matthew Page Andrews

It may truly be said of the Southern women of 1861-1865 that the simple narrative of their life and work unfolds a record of achievement, endurance, and self-sacrificing devotion that should be revealed and recognized as a splendid inspiration to men and women everywhere. The stories contained in this volume depict the life of the Southern people, particularly the women, within the lines of the Confederacy during the four years of its turbulent existence.

when-i-was-a-slave-memoirs-form-the-slave-narrative-collection-edited-by-norman-r-yetmanWhen I was a slave (Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection) Edited by Norman R. Yetman

In an effort to provide unemployed writers with work during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the United States Government, through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), funded the Federal Writers’ Project. One of the group’s most noteworthy and enduring achievements was the Slave Narrative Collection, consisting of more than 2,000 transcripts of interviews with former slaves, who, in blunt, simple words, provided often-startling first-person accounts of their lives in bondage. This book reprints some of the most detailed and engrossing life histories in the collection. Each narrative is complete.
Thirty-four gripping testimonies are included, with all slave occupations represented — from field hand and cook to French tutor and seamstress. Personal treatment reported by these individuals also encompassed a wide range — from the harshest and exploitative to living and working conditions that were intimate and benevolent.
An illuminating and unique source of information about life in the South before, during, and after the Civil War, these memoirs, most importantly, preserve the opinions and perspective of those who were enslaved. Invaluable to students, teachers, and specialists in Southern history, this compelling book will intrigue anyone interested in the African-American experience.

on-the-threshold-of-freedom-by-clarence-l-mohrOn the threshold of Freedom by Clarence L. Mohr

In this enlightening study, Clarence L. Mohr follows the demise of chattel slavery in one state of the Confederate South. Like the slavery regime itself, Mohr’s story is biracial in character, embracing the perspectives of both blacks and whites as they struggled to comprehend the approach of black freedom within a framework of attitudes and assumptions shaped by decades of mutual exposure to Georgia’s peculiar institution. By exploring in detail the changing patterns of black-white interaction that preceded legal emancipation in 1865, On the Threshold of Freedom defines central tendencies within Georgia slavery and suggests important links between antebellum life and the events of early Reconstruction.

An Oldie but Goodie

As a book reviewer, I always enjoy going back and checking out older reviews I have written. It’s funny because sometimes I think, “What in the world was I thinking when I wrote that?!” Not that I have a different mind about the story but the words I wrote to describe my feelings about the book or I had wish I had been further in-depth. It must be the mood I am at the moment, if I’m tired or whatever. This past weekend I was in the mood to look back at my review of The Sister Queens I wrote in 2013 and it’s not half bad. Check it out. – It’s an oldie but goodie. 

Book Review: The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

the-sister-queensThe Sister Queens is the second novel I have read about Marguerite and Eleanor, who both became Queens. The two sisters grew up together at their father’s-Count Raymond of Provence-court. They are separated at an early age to marry, they find their life as they know it completely changed and become two extraordinary women who face many challenges.

Marguerite married King Louis of France and is often neglected by him. She struggles to fulfill her role as Queen by his side. The reason for her struggles is due to her domineering and often time’s cruel mother-in-law, Blanche of Castile. Blanche’s influence over her son is strong as is her involvement in the governance of France.

Eleanor, whose husband is King Henry III of England, is not considered a strong leader to his kingdom but is a good husband and adores her. But as the years go by their marriage becomes strained and Eleanor struggles to bring back that spark in their relationship.

Although this story centers on Marguerite and Eleanor, they have two other sisters- Beatrice and Sanchia- who married the brothers of King Henry and King Louis. Their marriages help bond the relationship between the two countries. The marriages of all the sisters were obviously for political advantage and more power. Which is intriguing to read about and I find that I admire their courage, strength and their amazing resilience to adapt to any situation they encounter.

At the beginning of each chapter you read a letter from Marguerite to Eleanor and vice versa- as they corresponded through the years. As I read their letters, I found myself enthralled with their devotion to each other. For me, the letters were the highlight of the story told.

The alternating point of views told by the two sisters was well developed and easy to follow along. One can tell Perinot takes pride in her work and it shows through the pages and the character’s voices as their lives unfold. The compelling interpretation of Marguerite and Eleanor is believable and admirable. Stories such as this are timeless and Perinot brings the 13th century back to life through this captivating novel. That is one of the reasons why I’m so drawn to historical fiction. I hold this story in high affection and it is certainly praiseworthy!

I rated this story four and a half stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: City of Glory by Beverly Swerling

City of GloryThis week I came across this author and book cover on social media and ever since, I have been drawn to it. The premise & hisory itself is something I am highly interested in and one I hope to read soon. The story takes place in Old New York and the cover shows a city of promise and thriving with life. I love the colors, design!

(This is the second book in the series: Old New York 2)

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Set against the dramatic backdrop of America’s second war for independence, Beverly Swerling’s gripping and intricately plotted sequel to the much-loved “City of Dreams” plunges deep into the crowded streets of old New York. Poised between the Manhattan woods and the sea that is her gateway to the world, the city of 1812 is vibrant but raw, a cauldron where the French accents of Creole pirates mingle with the brogues of Irish seamen, and shipments of rare teas and silks from Canton are sold at raucous Pearl Street auctions. Allegiances are more changeable than the tides, love and lust often indistinguishable, the bonds of country weak compared to the temptation of fabulous riches from the East, and only a few farseeing patriots recognize the need not only to protect the city from the redcoats, but to preserve the fragile Constitutional union forged in 1787.

Joyful Patrick Turner, dashing war hero and brilliant surgeon, loses his hand to a British shell, retreats to private life, and hopes to make his fortune in the China trade. To succeed he must run the British blockade; if he fails, he will lose not only a livelihood, but the beautiful Manon, daughter of a Huguenot jeweler who will not accept a pauper as a son-in-law. When stories of a lost treasure and a mysterious diamond draw him into a treacherous maze of deceit and double-cross, and the British set Washington ablaze, Joyful realizes that more than his personal future is at stake. His adversary, Gornt Blakeman, has a lust for power that will not be sated until he claims Joyful’s fiancee as his wife and half a nation as his personal fiefdom. Like the Turners before him, Joyful must choose: his dreams or hiscountry.

Swerling’s vividly drawn characters illuminate every aspect of the teeming metropolis: John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest man in America, brings the city’s first Chinese to staff his palatial Broadway mansion; Lucretia Carter, wife of a respectable craftsman, makes ends meet as an abortionist serving New York’s brothels; Thumbless Wu, a mysterious Cantonese stowaway, slinks about on a secret mission; and the bewitching Delight Higgins, proprietress of the town’s finest gambling club, lives in terror of the blackbirding gangs who prey on runaway slaves. They are all here, the butchers and shipwrights, the doctors and scriv-eners, the slum dwellers of Five Points and the money men of the infant stock exchange…conspiring by day and carousing by night, while the women must hide their loyalties and ambitions, their very wills, behind pretty sighs and silken skirts.

Cover Crush banner

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Be sure to check out these great cover crushes and bloggers this week. The Maiden’s CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic Swede.

Wish-List 5: The American Civil War

As an American and a Southerner I have always been drawn to my countries history. Like all history there is good and the bad. I live in a state that is extremely rich in Civil War History and Southern Heritage. I have always been interested in the families of the south that live during the war and how it affected their lives. Recently my interest has deepened. I think it’s because I came across some documents or memories-if you will-that was written during the Reconstruction Period of the South. Since then that era has been on my mind. Then I was looking through some pictures of Madison, Georgia. A town in Georgia that Sherman and his army did not burn down on their march to the sea. Low and behold, a story of the south began to develop in my mind. So begins my research and reading of every novel and non-fiction book I can get my hands on about the civil war and the reconstruction.

Today, I share with you five historical fiction books of the era that is on my wish-list. Enjoy!

A Separate Country by Robert HicksA Separate Country by Robert Hicks

Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army–and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures-and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him.

The Outer Banks House by Diann DucharmeThe Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme

As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.

In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.

But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.

Morgan_NorthStar_jkt_HC_FINAL_PRNT12_22.inddChasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

In his latest historical novel, bestselling author Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of Jonah Williams, who, in 1850, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born a slave. He takes with him only a few stolen coins, a knife, and the clothes on his back–no shoes, no map, no clear idea of where to head, except north, following a star that he prays will be his guide.

Hiding during the day and running through the night, Jonah must elude the men sent to capture him and the bounty hunters out to claim the reward on his head. There is one person, however, who, once on his trail, never lets him fully out of sight: Angel, herself a slave, yet with a remarkably free spirit.

In Jonah, she sees her own way to freedom, and so sets out to follow him.

Bristling with breathtaking adventure, Chasing the North Star is deftly grounded in historical fact yet always gripping and poignant as the story follows Jonah and Angel through the close calls and narrow escapes of a fearsome world. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity. And it is Robert Morgan at his considerable best.

Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy & Becky HepinstallSisters of Shiloh

In a war pitting brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle.

Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Before the war, Joseph and Thomas were Josephine and Libby. But that bloodiest battle, Antietam, leaves Libby to find her husband, Arden, dead. She vows vengeance, dons Arden’s clothes, and sneaks off to enlist with the Stonewall Brigade, swearing to kill one Yankee for every year of his too-short life. Desperate to protect her grief-crazed sister, Josephine insists on joining her. Surrounded by flying bullets, deprivation, and illness, the sisters are found by other dangers: Libby is hurtling toward madness, haunted and urged on by her husband’s ghost; Josephine is falling in love with a fellow soldier. She lives in fear both of revealing their disguise and of losing her first love before she can make her heart known to him.

In her trademark “vibrant” (Washington Post Book World) and “luscious” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) prose, Kathy Hepinstall joins with her sister Becky to show us the hopes of love and war, the impossible-to-sever bonds of sisterhood, and how what matters most can both hurt us and heal us.

Red River by Lalita TademyRed River by Lalita Tademy

From the New York Times bestselling author of Cane River comes the dramatic, intertwining story of two families and their struggles during the tumultuous years that followed the Civil War.

Here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede 

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired 

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary – To Come

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation