After spending her adolescent years in England, Rachel has longed for her family’s Kenya farm, where she roamed the land, worked and loved the family’s slaves, that she left behind after her mother’s death. Now, no longer a child, Rachel comes to see the harsh challenges of British-occupied Kenya in the 1950s, both from the native Kenyans to the extremist Mau Mau fighters to the white settlers. It’s like a Gone with the Wind, set in Kenya, where the stark contrast of slaves and owners – along with the dramatic political climate, make this an intense, emotional and thoughtful read. I loved it!
Fates and Traitors is a fictional accounting of the life (and surrounding people’s lives) of John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. History books portray him as an evil villain and it’s not so black and white; there’s much more to the story especially from the point of view of four influential women surrounding him. Enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini’s fictional telling, and immerse yourself in the interesting and potentially true stories of a complicated man. From Booth’s childhood, his famous actor-alcoholic father, his siblings, mother – and the elite Washington DC girlfriend who knew nothing of his politics. Even when you know the ending, you’ll continue to enjoy the journey and challenges of John Wilkes Booth and the people around him and how they suffered following Lincoln’s assassination and Booth’s death, despite their differing politics.
When you think of Nike, you don’t think of bad management, bad decisions and bad products – you think of money, brand and tons of success. In Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, the creator himself will tell you what a terrible boss he was, how many mistakes he made, and how often the company almost went broke. In fact you’ll keep wondering how he held on so long – and how his marriage survived so many company and person attacks. Which is why you’ll want to read Shoe Dogs until the end. It’s refreshingly honest into the man who created the biggest brand on the planet.
A 10-year Southern California native, I’ve tried my hand at vegetable gardening for years with almost no success. Vegetable gardening is too region-specific to have a catch-all guide. The Timber Press Guide provides monthly checklists, along with specific lists of recommended vegetables, fruits and herbs for the region. And based on the clarity, simplicity and organization of this book, I recommend you check out the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening for your region: Click here to browse.
We all know the legend of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show – but do we know what shaped and drove the man to be the charismatic, fearless entertainer that he was? Andrea Warren explores the sometimes sad, always challenging life that formed the man Billy Cody became. From the death of his older brother, to becoming the man of the house as early as 11. A fascinating read for an adult – and if you can get your teenager to read it too, even better.
I loved the premise of this book – that amazing athletes who children idolize are real people too. As a parent, especially as my son is succeeding and failing at different activities, it’s a great perspective for him to have: That professional athletes are people who have won and lost throughout life. For my fourth-grader who is a Denver Broncos fan, he loved reading about Peyton Manning dancing the tango in front of his middle school. Other athletes included were Jackie Robinson, Yao Mind, Lionel Messi, Gabby Douglas, Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick. This is a fabulous read for middle grade kids who have an interest in sports – and covers a variety of sports, backgrounds and diversity with short stories and illustrations that make this especially good for middle grade readers.
A truly fascinating person, Mark Twain, is still revered today and at the time he was idolized and probably the most famous person of his time, respected in various circles from politics to music and business. Twain’s End is a fabulous story-telling and peek into the man that few people knew: Sam Clemens. I can’t even come up with a good genre to explain the book – part biography, part family drama-saga, and part romance; Regardless, Twain’s End is eye-opening, dark and very real. Based on several real documents – from diaries to letters – Lynn Cullen weaves a painfully real story of the real Mark Twain and the suffering he created to those around him.
A little out of my usual historical fiction, Pirate Hunters caught my eye immediately with an adventurous cover and intriguing title. My favorite character in any historical romance, I love pirates and novels set on a ship. And adding Pirate Hunters to the book list seemed like a great toe-in-the-water to get a little more fact with my fiction. The story begins with two famed scuba divers/treasure hunters and their search for one of the greatest pirate ships ever. The two collect all the latest technology to start their search and when they realize that technology is only going to get them so far, they dig deeper to try to discover not only the ship, but the real story behind one of the most intriguing pirate captains ever. As a fiction reader, I wanted a little more emotion, a little more personal depth in the story (and maybe its just too hard to do in this format) – but there’s no denying the excitement of following these two men and their trek to find a legend.
War Bonds is a collection of short essays on the lives of World War II-generation couples who often turned courtships of three months or less into six decade marriages. Collected and told by a newspaper columnist, each section reads much as a surface human interest story complete with a love lessons advice from the couples and a representative war time song. The result does lack some depth, presenting a vivid but disappearing greatest generation much quieted by time and hindsight, but the very definition of heartwarming. And kudos to the author for a title in pun.
This Angela Hunt portrayal of Esther is dramatic and real – through the eyes of two characters: Hadassah (the Jewish name that Esther is called throughout) and Harbonah, the kind’s personal slave. The two perspective are brilliant in telling the full story and life of Persian times. I loved that this book didn’t glorify Esther, but instead made her real, human as she grows from a Jewish orphan girl living with her cousins to Queen of Persia to a wise and bold influencer of her husband King Xerxes.
Note: It’s interesting to read this and then read the Book of Esther. While Esther Royal Beauty is fiction, it is mostly factually based and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times. While I can’t vouch for every Biblical accuracy of the book, there are no major contradictions; I recommend reading this book as fiction that gives a potential perspective to Esther’s story.