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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Review : Diana Milne reviews Twilight of Memory by Julia Fa...

Sharing with my readers a review of my own book by Diana Milne from The Review Facebook. Thank you Diana, for the beautiful words. I hope you will read it, go to the bottom of the review and enter the giveaway. Paperback or ebook, your choice.  Here's the link:

The Review : Diana Milne reviews Twilight of Memory by Julia Fa...: Diana Milne reviews Twilight of Memory by Julia Faye Smith. The author has offered a reader's choice of ebook or paper copy as a givea...Review of Twilight of Memory       

Thursday, July 21, 2016

M.K. Tod has another winner in TIME AND REGRET

Right up front let me say that I love M. K. Tod's World War I stories for they are a perfect mixture of war, romance, and home front details. They are always well-researched and presented.

From the blurb: "When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them."

Grace grew up in the care of her loving Grandfather and her stern Grandmother. Yet, even as we are reading of Grandmother's harsh ways and unsmiling countenance, one feels that there is more to her than the reader knows. It was a pleasure to learn the truth of this woman.

Years before his death, Grace's Grandfather left her a tackle box that she later learned contained a mystery...a mystery that would change her life. This is a premise that has been used many times lately, but few do it better than M.K. Tod. The journey that the clues led Grace to take, is a journey that I would love to take. While searching for answers to Grandfather's mystery, Grace visits the many sites where his regiment fought in WWI. She read her Grandfather's descriptions of a battle as she stood on the present-day site of that battle. Most of the sites are now, of course, cemeteries with towering monuments as the men who fought there are remembered and honored. The juxtaposition of the horror of her Grandfather's words and the serenity of the present scene was heart-wrenching yet beautiful.

Yes, Grace is at a point in her life when she needs to put it back together. Yes, there is a love story. Yes, there is a mystery man stalking her. These points should attract the romance readers, the mystery readers, and the readers who like to see a woman pull herself up and move on. For me, however, the strength of this book is the historical research and the beautiful way it is presented.

One strong theme comes through: the injustice of war. Injustice in the deaths, of course, but also in the changes it makes in the men who are, in her grandfather's words, turned into "weapons of destruction." That though is repeated several times but always in exactly the right way and at the right time.

This is a well-written, well-research historical fiction that should be on the reading list of anyone who is a fan of the genre and time period. I highly recommend it. 

The book will be published on August 16, 2016. It is available for pre-orders at

There is also a goodreads giveaway for 100 Kindle copies. Enter at

I was given a gift copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A hard book to review: America's First Daughter, a look at the life of Martha "Patsy" Jefferson, her father and family.

I wanted so much to love every word of this book. Instead, I often wanted to hurl the book across the room. Not because of inferior writing or poor research, but because of an interpretation of Patsy Jefferson that made me want to shake her. She wasn't in the room with me, but the book was, so I wanted to hurl it.

This is a novel built around the life of the daughter of one of my favorite figures in American history, Thomas Jefferson, always an enigma.  The important words in the sentence above are "this is a novel." I kept forgetting that as I read, (which in itself is an indication of the authors' abilities), and would get extremely annoyed with Patsy. I would think to myself, "how could she be so weak?' "How could she take that over and over?" Then I would remind myself that this is an interpretation of Patsy Jefferson and her actions and life. In other words, 'this is a novel."

I am writing this on July 4, 2016, exactly 240 years (plus one day for historical accuracy) from the momentous day that gave us the spark that started a revolution. It is also 190 years from the death of two men instrumental in lighting that spark, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Both men left volumes of writings. Both men were patriots, friends at time, and enemies at time. Both men were instrumental in giving the world a new nation. Amazingly, Thomas Jefferson is now featured in a hip-hop Broadway musical (though Alexander Hamilton is the main character) and John is mentioned. The thought comes to mind, which one, or would both, love the musical attention, or would both want to lead another revolution?

I feel that Patsy Jefferson, in her own way, staged a revolution, for she was responsible for determining just what, from her father's personal papers, the world would read. Did she save enough for us to have a fair picture of him? Did she destroy enough that we really don't know him at all? While historians know that Patsy and her children carefully edited Jefferson's papers before publishing them, one can only guess at how much content was lost. Many learned people believe that they skewered our perception of Thomas Jefferson.

Still, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson left us enough that we know Jefferson, but do we know her? From the portrait painted by the authors as interpreted by me, I hope not. I came away felling that she was a strong person when called upon by her public life, but a weak woman in her private life. There, too, I wanted her to be strong. I wanted her to stand up for her children and herself and take control. I wanted her to protect herself and her family from her husband, to stop being an enabler. I suppose I wanted her to behave with a strong backbone, and she did not. I know that looking back at her from my 21st Century perspective probably colors my vision of her.

The authors did a superb job of giving Sally Hemmings life. I enjoyed the nuances of the relationship between Patsy and Sally, the acknowledgement of their places within Thomas Jefferson's life, and within their own shared lives. Sally, unlike Patsy, endeared herself to me.

Additionally, the book filled in blanks in my historical knowledge and aligned history across continents for me. The importance of the American revolutionary ideas to the French Revolution was presented well, and I enjoyed the characterization of Lafayette.

Again, this is a novel. It is a well-researched historical fiction, and that research is presented by two capable authors giving us a very readable literary work. In spite of my feelings toward Patsy Jefferson, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. The American historical fiction scene always needs a new novel to help fill in the gaps, and this one does just that.

Now I'm off to read and research Martha "Patsy" Jefferson for myself. The authors' bibliography will be helpful in my search.

Available at major outlets on online retailers. I purchased my copy for online reading.