Quote of the Week

“There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!”

Emily Dickinson [1830-1886]
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1955. Page 647.

Quote of the Week

“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
our statures touch the skies.”

Emily Dickinson [1830-1886]
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1955. Page 647.

(Review) Passiflora, Poems by Kathy Davis

Publisher and Publication Date: Cider Press Review. January 20, 2021.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 73 written pages and illustrations.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author and publisher. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Poetry readers.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Author Bio:

Kathy Davis is a poet and nonfiction writer who received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry manuscript, Passiflora, won the 2019 Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in February 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Diode, The Hudson Review, Nashville Review, Oxford American, The Southern Review, storySouth and other journals. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for Best of the Net and the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction. After raising their two boys, she and her husband moved to an old farmhouse outside of Richmond, Va., where she tends a wildflower meadow when not writing.

Website/ Twitter

Summary:

Passiflora is a collection of poems about our day-to-day struggles with loss, raising children, relationships, aging and creating art, and how the nature that surrounds us informs how we view these challenges and sometimes serves as a source of solace.

My Thoughts:

Passiflora is a lesson to me to never read a poem quick. The first time I read through the book at a quick pace. The second and third times slower. I let the words trickle through me. I let those words savor a bit in my mind.
I am fond of nature in poems. Passiflora uses the natural world to compare and express other parts of life like relationships.

Since I’ve had breast cancer, I can relate to the poem on page 18, “Sunday.” I know it’s an uncomfortable subject. People wonder what they can do and automatically think about providing a meal. While reading this poem I can feel the discomfort, the things unsaid, and the dare to follow through with just being there as a friend.

Another favorite poem is on page 26, “Eve: After the Fall.” I’m amazed at the introduction-the shift-the use of words bringing in the second child-“he.” It is beautiful and moving.

The form or structure of the poems is noticeable. The stanza arrangement. The pause of spaces. These are on purpose. I love this.

I love the illustrations included in the book. I wish there were more. They are botanical drawings.

The front cover of the book is a photograph by Grace Kellogg. It is a close-up view of the pistil and stigma in a blooming plant-possibly a flower. These are the areas that germinate and produce.


(Review) The Cotillion Brigade: A Novel of the Civil War and The Most Famous Female Militia in American History by Glen Craney

Publisher and Publication Date: Brigid’s Fire Press. March 15th 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 399.
Format: e-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from the author. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers of the Civil War era.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

Barnes and Noble link

Links for more information about this history:
The Girl Soldiers of Nancy Harts Militia, from the Civil War Monitor
Troup County Archives
History.com
American Civil War Forum
Women History Blog (beware of pop-ups)

Author Info:

A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California.
Learn more about Glen’s books and subscribe to his newsletter for deals and new releases at www.glencraney.com.

Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Goodreads

Summary:

Georgia burns.
Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.
Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?

Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is a sweeping epic of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood amid devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.

“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”

1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles to the north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.

Five years later, secession and total war against the homefronts of Dixie hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.

Nannie defies the traditions of Southern gentility by forming a women’s militia and drilling it four long years to prepare for battle. With their men dead, wounded, or retreating with the Confederate armies, only Captain Nannie and her Fighting Nancies stand between their beloved homes and the Yankee torches.

Hardened into a slashing Union cavalry colonel, Hugh duels Rebel generals Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest across Tennessee and Alabama. As the war churns to a bloody climax, he is ordered to drive a burning stake deep into the heart of the Confederacy.

Yet one Georgia town—which by mocking coincidence bears Hugh’s last name—stands defiant in his path.

Read the remarkable story of the Southern women who formed America’s most famous female militia and the Union officer whose life they changed forever.

My Thoughts:

Several reasons why I love The Cotillion Brigade:
1. It is a history I’ve not heard of before.
2. It is not dual time periods. Bravo! The story is told in a linear or chronological form.
3. There is tension, internal and external conflicts, controversy, and extra-ordinary characters.
4. One of my favorite points about this story is the wonderful dialogue. I love the Southern phrases. I love the specific word usage by the different characters down to their humor and sarcasm. Several times I laughed out loud at the comic moments. The Cotillion Brigade is a serious story of war. In a serious story it is important to have moments when the reader can take a breath. Those comic moments are a benefit.
5. Through Nancy’s eyes I saw the destruction and devastation of the war on the people, the towns, and the land. It is especially moving during the part of the story where she tends the wounds of soldiers.
6. The story moves between the women involved in the Brigade and Colonel Hugh LaGrange. His parts in the story are mainly the events of the war. He is a Colonel in the Union Army. I am able to understand his experiences during the war. His decisions and feelings about the South.
7. The descriptions of the people, land, buildings, homes, and the aftermath of war is brought to life on page. I especially love reading about less significant things like the characters facial expressions and mannerisms.
8. The Cotillion Brigade has a solid ending. A satisfying ending. The devastation of the war on the land and people is a fact. I like characters to have a resolve of some kind. I like to see a transformation. I am pleased with the ending.
9. I can think of one point that is not something I cared about in the story. The beginning of the story is focused on the pre-Civil War years of Nancy Colquitt Hill and Hugh LaGrange. I do not care about house parties and clothing. I do not care about who has a bonnet set on a particular man. I did enjoy reading about LaGrange. These years gave me an idea of his beliefs and convictions.
10. The Cotillion Brigade is not a story with the aim/focus of telling about the injustices of slavery. The emphasis is on the Brigade, Nancy, and Hugh. The characters have opinions and during the telling of the story it is obvious their feelings.

Themes in the story: honor, courage, bravery, grief, compassion, injustice, perseverance, power of love, sacrifice, romance, loyalty, death and dying, survival, suffering, and heroism.

(Review) The Forsaken Children (The British Home Children #1) by Naomi Finley

Publisher and Publication Date: Huntson Press. April 13, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 350.
Format: E-book copy.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book copy from the publisher and HFVBT. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction focused on children.
Rating: Very good.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour landing page.

Link for the book @ Amazon.
Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble.

The books in the series are Prequel/ The Forsaken Children/ Miss Winters Rapscallions (in 2022).

Author Info:

Naomi is an award-winning author living in Northern Alberta. She loves to travel and her suitcase is always on standby awaiting her next adventure. Naomi’s affinity for the Deep South and its history was cultivated during her childhood living in a Tennessee plantation house with six sisters. Her fascination with history and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome obstacles are major inspirations for her writing and she is passionately devoted to creativity. In addition to writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, and hosting dinner parties. Naomi is married to her high school sweetheart and she has two teenage children and two dogs named Egypt and Persia.

For more information, please visit Naomi Finley’s website. You can also find her on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

Summary:

A riveting tale of endurance and resilience, illustrating the spirit of a child and the bond between siblings.

It’s 1921. Fifteen-year-old Hazel Winters and her six-year-old brother, William, are placed on a ship by an organization that relocates British orphans and children of poverty to new homes in Canada. Arrivals in the new land are exported to distributing houses, where devastation and heartache greet the youngsters as the headmistresses govern their fate.

The assurance of a better life across the ocean is far from what Hazel experiences. Through hardships and loneliness, she is determined to survive. Finding refuge in memories of the past, she clings to the dream of returning to her homeland while preserving a reunion in her heart.

In 1890, orphaned Charlotte Appleton and her sister Ellie were scooped up from London’s streets and sent to new homes across the ocean. Although mere miles kept them apart, Charlotte never knew her sister’s whereabouts until a chance interaction reunites them. Together the siblings vow to make a difference for the families and home children of an institution in Toronto, Ontario.

Can an unexpected guardian give Hazel renewed strength and resolve for a future of promise?

Based on the child emigration movement that occurred from 1869 through the late1930s, this poignant tale follows the lives of siblings who were burdensome byproducts of Britain’s poverty.

My Thoughts:

The Forsaken Children is aptly named. It is 350 depressing pages. Other words I’d use to describe the book is exhausting, oppressive, and filled with despair. However, The Forsaken Children is an important story. It teaches about a period in history where the most vulnerable in society were taken advantage, abused, and considered expendable.

Before I share my impressions of this story, I have been reminded of something my dad shared about his life. Dad was born in 1922 (the same period of this story). Dad was born in a small town in central Texas. He lived during the Great Depression years. His family was poor. Dad remarked that his parents generation treated children terrible. Children were often regarded with disrespectful words, humiliation, made fun of, and abused. It was rare for an adult to take up for a child. Men especially treated children bad. Dad had a low opinion of the previous generation. One story my dad shared is an adult man, a neighbor, allowed his dog to attack my dad, this man laughed at dad-he did nothing to help. This man considered it amusement. The Forsaken Children recreates this same time period and the same type of ideology.

What I love about The Forsaken Children is the heavy atmosphere and descriptions that bring the story to life. It is a harrowing tale and it has a full impact.

Hazel is a true heroine. She is described as thin and barely 5 feet tall. She is a sprite of a girl. But, she has a heart of gold. She has the will and perseverance of a super-hero. I love it that no matter what she has experienced in life, Hazel has not become bitter.

There is an additional dual time story of Charlotte’s life. I love it that the dual time periods are not back and forth too often, but they reveal Charlotte’s persistence in uncovering the truth about Hazel.

The characters are either exceptional or villainous. There is no in-between. The polar extremes makes either side 3-D.

The story does not wrap-up in a tidy package. It’s possible there will be more to this story in the next book.

Themes in the story: shame, compassion, betrayal, courage, perseverance, self-worth, power of love, and loyalty.

Giveaway:

Enter to win a mystery box of goodies + a copy of The Forsaken Children by Naomi Finley!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Direct link to the giveaway: The Forsaken Children (gleam.io)