Peacemaker is set in North America at some point prior to the arrival of European colonists, possibly in the early 1500s. Okwaho is a young Onondagan boy who left his village of Onontaka with his parents and fourteen other families. They turned their backs on the war-fighting life of Onontaka and wanted to live in peace. This earned the rage of their former chief, Atatarho, who wore snakes in his hair and routinely ordered murderous raids against other villages. But now Okwaho’s best friend has been captured by a raiding party, and the villagers wonder if they ever can truly escape wars. Then a stranger named Carries visits Okwaho’s village. Carries brings news of an amazing man, The Peacemaker, who will soon visit their territory. The village is excited at the prospect of peace, but Okwaho still harbors anger at the loss of his friend. Is peace possible?
I truly enjoyed this book and the many Iroquois legends it shares. The stories are fascinating, and I was captivated by the Peacemaker. The idea of a man called the Peacemaker, who cannot be destroyed, convincing five tribes, the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Onondaga, to turn to peace and unite as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) is inspiring. The author uses a fictional character, the young Okwaho, and intersperses his story with Iroquois legends to bring a true message of peace for all to this time. The story of Hiawatha is also part of this tale. I especially enjoyed the legend of the Twins and the story of the snake and the frog. This book is recommended for everyone, as the message of peace is universal.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary.
Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed Abenaki children’s book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac’s poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 500 publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored more than 50 books for adults and children.
This is my weekly feature in which I highlight a great self-published book. Below is my review of Jalopy by Wes Verde, set in 1928. As always, if you decide to read this very well-written book, be sure to leave a review. Reviews are so important to self-published authors.
Etta and her father are all that are left of their once large and thriving family, as illness and tragedy have visited them often. It is 1928, and they are struggling to meet a huge tax burden on their failing farm. Etta goes into town to sell eggs every day, and on the way back she often walks to a secret, hidden place she has found in the countryside. Resting in that place is an old, abandoned jalopy, and Etta often sits in the broken-down jalopy, opens a map she found in the car, and dreams of places she wants to go.
Art, even at over 6 feet, is in the smallest of all of his brothers, and they are all towered over by their strict, controlling father. Art’s father is a very successful and well-to-do salesman of refrigerator units. He spends his days on sales calls trying to convince business owners to switch from ice houses to electric refrigeration. Art’s mother is controlling in her own way and has arranged a marriage for Art. Art is not enthusiastic about any of this, but has learned not to rock the boat. He is going along with everything, and spends his days on uncomfortable sales calls with his father. In his his free time, he is avoiding his new fiancee. Then a night out with his brothers ends with Art sleeping it off in Etta’s barn.
This is a captivating novel that draws you into Etta’s world immediately, starting with the gorgeous book cover. The author does a good job of depicting the drudgery and fear involved in barely scraping by with the tax man looming. The class division in the town between the locals and the part-time, wealthy lakeside resort visitors is well portrayed. Etta is an endearing protagonist, and you will begin rooting for her immediately as she finds herself in more than one life-threatening circumstance. Art’s situation of being bullied in his own family is also well written, and I found myself wanting to knock some heads together on his behalf.
My only criticism is that the book ended rather abruptly, followed by an epilogue that was set five years later and basically explained how everything turned out. I would rather have been shown what happened than told in an epilogue. That being said, this is a beautiful, endearing novel that will transport you to a time when life was hard, loss was prevalent, and love, if you could find it, was cherished.
This book is available on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. I highly recommend you check it out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.
Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.
A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible
This was another book I reviewed for the May issue of Historical Novels Review, and it was also an Editor’s Choice.
Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.
In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.
In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.
This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.
NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.D.Major is the pen name of Cesca Major – a novelist and screenwriter.
Cesca has always been fascinated by mysteries from the recent past.
Her book THE OTHER GIRL was a number 1 Amazon Bestseller and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2021. It’s a historical thriller perfect for members of a book club. Set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand it is inspired by the strange phenomenon of children claiming to have past life memories. Her latest book, set in the present day, THE THIN PLACE is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths.
Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under her own name and the pseudonym Rosie Blake, and currently has an original TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.
She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to send her a message over at Twitter or Instagram.
To celebrate the release of the latest novel in the Juche series, The Storm of Storms, we’re going back to the book that started it all! The Demon of Yodok! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed hardcover edition of the novel!
The Demon of Yodok (Juche 1)
Genre: YA Dystopian
A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival series that will keep you glued to the pages.
Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.
There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.
The aggressors from the west were defeated. The invaders from the east were expunged. The traitors from the south were put at bay.
The people of Choson were finally free to create their own destiny, and so a hermit kingdom of people’s rule rose from the ashes, and the doors to the enemies of the outside world were closed, never to be opened again.
The world around them moved on. Years passed. Decades passed. Peace and prosperity spread throughout the world, and nothing was heard from the secluded hermit paradise.
Then one day, people started emerging from its closed borders. The stories they brought with them were, however, not of a paradise on earth. Instead, what they depicted were horrors so vile and cruel that they almost exceeded human comprehension.
Little had the people of the kingdom known when they closed its doors to the outside world, that the vilest beast of all was still lurking among their midst, and as soon as the curtains had been drawn, the beast unleashed its reign of terror upon the people, not stopping until it had crushed and enslaved every soul within its reach.
The beast now rules the kingdom from a throne of human misery and agony.
No one alive has ever encountered this beast, but everybody knows its name.
Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.
This is a great combination of both dystopian and historical fiction, as it is really 1994 and the Kingdom of Choson is, of course, North Korea, and the Great General is their leader at the time, Kim Il Sung. This is not just about an evil Communist dictatorship, although much is exposed. It is about the great resentment Areum feels towards her parents and sister and the fact that she doesn’t feel a part of her own family. Her resentment is shocking at times and is so well described.
The descriptions of the horrible treatment of the citizens of the “Kingdom of Choson” and the way that evil actions are portrayed as good things is heartbreaking. Adria Carmichael paints a vivid picture of a society filled with fear, and leaders who look on those in their charge as less than nothing. Through it all runs the concept of Juche, a North Korean version of communism/totalitarianism as invented by Kim Il Sung. Carmichael takes us to a society that tells its people how great it is while they starve and murder them. Her idea to present North Korea as the setting of a dystopian novel is a good one, because it really is a dystopian society right here on Earth. The story is riveting from start to finish. This is a great debut novel from the very talented Adria Carmichael.
1776. Addie’s world has changed beyond recognition. From her privileged position amongst Boston’s elite, she has embraced a dangerous new life with the American Revolutionary Army. While childhood sweetheart Silas risks all on the front lines, Addie waits anxiously for news. And when Silas does not return from the Battle of Monmouth, her worst fears come true.
Without thinking, Addie takes a horse and scours the now-calm battlefield for Silas, until word arrives that he has been captured by the British. And worse, by the troop of Scottish Highlanders led by the brooding general John Traverne. Addie hasn’t seen the powerfully built Loyalist soldier since she chose the Revolutionary cause over her own heart, and hearing his name sends butterflies to her stomach, even as she is filled with worry for Silas.
Disregarding her own safety, Addie leaves Washington’s camp and travels deep into enemy territory, determined to bring Silas home. But when she comes face to face with John Traverne once more, the feelings she has tried so hard to bury resurface and she must choose between the man she has pledged her life to, and the man whose dark eyes haunt her dreams. When Addie finally returns to her own camp, she carries a secret that could cost her everything she has fought for…
The second part of the spellbinding, emotional trilogy about enduring love and heartbreaking secrets amidst the birth of America. Readers who adored My Dear Hamilton and Flight of the Sparrow will love America’s Wife.
BOOK REVIEW: Bonnie Reads and Writes
This is a gripping, spellbinding and endearing historical romance that transports you to George Washington’s headquarters and then into enemy territory during the American Revolution. The people, the conflict, and the landscapes are so well described. The romances in this book are complex and heartbreaking. This story will grab your attention and it won’t let go. This is the second book in the America’s Daughter trilogy and the second one I’ve read by De Blasis, who was taken from us too soon in 2001.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author Bio: Millions of readers have fallen under the spell of the lush, enthralling and bestselling novels by Celeste De Blasis. Tales of adventure and romance set against the sweep of history—all are storytelling at its finest. After graduating from Pomona College, Celeste devoted her life to impeccable research and spellbinding writing. A native Californian, Celeste grew up on the historic Kemper Campbell Ranch in the Mojave Desert, where she lived until her death in 2001.
I reviewed Man on the Isle of Jura for the May edition of Historical Novels Review magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. As the final part of the process, reviewers are given a list of books (with descriptions) to choose from. This one jumped out at me because: √Time Travel, √Historical Fiction √Magical Realism. Those who have been following this blog know that historical fiction with a time travel sub-genre is my favorite thing to read. Throw in magical realism and I am definitely hooked. My review is below. There is also a link at the bottom of the page to an interview (Q&A) of me on Tom Maremaa’s website. Check it out! This time he was the one asking the questions. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Christopher Reed is with his family in an SUV in California when a devastating earthquake hits. His wife and daughter are killed and Christopher plunges into the Pacific Ocean. However, before he knows it, he is drowning in the Atlantic ocean on the Isle of Jura outside of Scotland, 1948. The village Christopher arrives in on the Isle of Jura is like many villages may have been in 1948–except some of its inhabitants are telepathic and some can see the future. Jack Wilson, who rescues Christopher from the ocean, can do both. Jack soon joins Christopher on an important mission to make sure a world-changing book (George Orwell’s 1984) is published, despite operatives from another timeline trying to erase it from existence. This is the second book in the “Of Gods, Royals, and Superman” series. It can be read as a standalone.
This interesting book combines historical fiction with time travel and magical realism in a most unique way. The extrasensory abilities of the villagers, time portals in 1948, and mythical creatures all make sense in this extraordinary novel that reminds us of the importance of great literary works and the magnitude of their impact on history. The characters are well developed and the action flows from one fantastical event to another. Fans of literature, time travel and magical realism will enjoy this historical nod to an important novel.
I received a free copy of this book via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.
Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the book for free on Amazon.
As always be sure and post a review if you decide to read this book. Reviews are so important to authors.
Tom Maremaa is the author of twelve novels, most recently Man on the Isle of Jura and Reynkaviik. His novel METAL HEADS from Kunati Books was nominated by the American Library Association (ALA) as one of the Notable Books of 2009. He has also authored short fiction, plays, and works of non-fiction. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he studied languages, literature and philosophy at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and worked on his Ph.D in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He lives with his wife in Silicon Valley, California, and works as a software engineer in the Valley. He travels widely to learn about and understand as many cultures and languages as he can.
In Georgia, 1922, twelve-year-old Ophie is suddenly awakened by her father, who tells her to get her mother and hide. Although questioning, she obeys. Soon evil men descend on their home. They had already killed her father, and now they burn Ophie’s home to the ground. That was the night Ophie learned she could see ghosts.
With no justice for her father and nowhere to live, Ophie and her mother take the train to Pittsburgh to live with Aunt Rose. Ophie soon begins working at Daffodil Manor as a maid to the old, biased, and angry Mrs. Caruthers. But the ghosts of the manor know that Ophie can see them, and most of them want to be seen. Ophie begins to grow strong as she adapts to her job and to her abilities. When she starts to investigate a mystery in the old house, she questions the ones who would know the most–the ghosts.
This is a well written and important book because it teaches middle grade readers about the horrors and history of racism. Through the savage murder of Ophie’s father, the experiences of some of the ghosts, and the cruel privilege of Mrs. Caruthers, America’s tainted past is explained. Ophie herself is a force of hope as she helps the ghosts move on to the afterlife and shows the truth to those who are still living. Every character, ghost and living, is well developed and has a story to tell. The point of view is mostly Ophie’s, but the old house, Daffodil Manor, also has a voice, as does the City of Pittsburgh. Aunt Rose serves as a helpful guide to the spirit world in a difficult time. This is a beautiful blend of historical fiction and magical realism that is both awakening and intriguing. Highly recommend.
I received a free copy of this book for review in Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
Ophie’s Ghosts will be released on May 18, 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justina Ireland is the author of Dread Nation (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), a New York Times bestseller, as well as the sequel Deathless Divide. Her earlier works include the fantasy young adult novels Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows (both Simon and Schuster).
Justina also writes for the Star Wars franchise, including the books Lando’s Luck, Spark of the Resistance, and the upcoming A Test of Courage, part of the High Republic publishing initiative.
She is the former co-editor in chief of FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, for which she won a World Fantasy Award. She holds a BA from Armstrong Atlantic University and an MFA from Hamline University.
Here is another edition of my weekly feature, Self-Published Saturday. Self-Published authors need our support. If you like the book I’ve chosen this week and decide to buy it, please share the link with your friends and put a review up on Amazon. It’s so important for these authors.
The book I’m highlighting this week is The Milk Wagon by Michael Hewes. Enjoy.
#BOOK REVIEW: THE MILK WAGON
The Milk Wagon is a fantastic thriller set in the 80’s, much of it revolving around a group of high school boys. As an 80’s high schooler myself, this was a wonderful walk down memory lane. This book has the 80’s high school mentality exactly right, and transported me back there as the movies we watched, the cars we drove, and the way we thought were so accurately described.
This novel was perfectly woven together as both an 80’s book and a crime/murder thriller. There were many twists and turns, and although I am usually pretty good at guessing the “bad guy,” i was totally wrong this time. The fact that this book was not predictable impressed me.
The characters are so well done, especially the 80s high school kids, that I was sad when it ended. That’s how you tell a great book. You don’t want it to end.
If you love crime thrillers, if you loved the 80s, or if you just love a well written book, check this one out.
I received a free copy of this book from Michael Hewes and BooksGoSocial via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Hewes earned his undergraduate degree from University of Southern Mississippi and his law degree from Ole Miss.
A retired JAG officer, Hewes currently practices law in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he lives with his wife and their three sons, two dogs, and one cat.
This was probably my favorite read for the May issue of Historical Novels Review., the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. They also made it an “Editor’s Choice.”
In 1976, five-year-old Rita is ripped away from the only family she has ever known and is taken to Georgetown, Guyana, to live with her father, Jitty Miraj. A wild child, she surrounds herself with animals and books, and shares everything with her diary, a gift from her father. Her father becomes her world, and she forgets her past. When Doomsday comes, and she meets Jitty’s new wife Chandra, Rita is told that she is not good enough. Chandra is embarrassed of Rita’s African and Amerindian roots, her curly hair, and the fact that her parents weren’t married. Rita is quickly set off to the side. Then a chance to visit her mother’s family presents itself. Will Rita finally learn the truth her father will never tell? How did her mother die? This is the coming of age story of Rita Miraj, from five years old to adulthood.
This is an absolutely gorgeous, soul-touching book that I could not put down. We are immediately drawn into Rita’s life and grow up with her as she learns to cope with a weak but manipulative father and his empty promises. Words are her gift, and we are gifted with her poems and diary entries. Music, movies, and political/historical events of the 1970s and 1980s are relayed through Rita, Jitty, and flashbacks to Rita’s mother Cassie. The lush beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich history of the Pomeroon River area are described in vivid detail. Rita has a deeply moving and soul- changing moment on Shell Beach watching a turtle lay her eggs, and I was drawn in to her overwhelming wonder and joy. The evolution of Rita’s heart, mind, and goals as she grows and learns is so well captured here. This book was an unforgettable, magical joy to read. Highly recommend.
I received a free copy from Bookouture for Historical Novels Review. I also purchased a copy to support this amazing book. My opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1951, and a sense of adventure has followed her around the world. In 1971 she spent a year backpacking around South America, followed by a few months with pioneering friends in the Guyana rainforest, followed by an overland trip to India, followed by a year in a Hindu Ashram.
She settled in Germany where she married, studied, worked, and raised children.
Officially retired, she continues to write from her new home in Ireland.
Her first novel was published by HarperCollins in 1999, followed by two more in 2001 and 2002. At present she has 10 published works with the digital publisher Bookouture.
She has one self-published work, a retelling of the magnificent Indian epic Mahabharata: a project of love which took her over 30 years to “get right”, written under the pen name S. Aruna.
A Peculiar Combination was one of my favorites of all the books I read for the May edition of Historical Novels Review. They also made this book an “Editor’s Choice.” It’s a great read and the start of a new series.
A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the first book in the new Electra McDonnell series, which is set in World War II England. Electra (Ellie) belongs to a family of thieves. Her Uncle Mick is a master safecracker, and she and her cousins, Toby and Colm, have learned everything they know from him. With Toby and Colm off fighting in the war, it is up to Ellie and Uncle Mick to keep supporting the family. When a house robbery goes bad, Ellie finds herself working for a government official, Major Ramsey, in order to keep herself and Uncle Mick out of jail. Their first mission leads to more as it becomes clear a traitor is at work and German spies are involved.
This is an engaging and addictive historical thriller with a touch of romance. I immediately connected with these characters, especially Ellie and Uncle Mick. Ellie is an intriguing and complex individual. She is a thief and safecracker, but has also been to finishing school. She can operate in any level of society, which makes her a perfect thief and a perfect spy. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day and safecracker by night, but he has a moral code, even as a thief, that he will not break. He has passed that code onto Ellie. Ellie’s missions into high society with the Major are thrilling and fun to watch. They are a reminder that World War II was also fought silently by spies on both sides. Fans of historical thrillers and strong female characters are going to love this World War II spy adventure. Highly recommend.
I received a free copy of this book from Minotaur Books for review in Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.
ASHLEY WEAVER is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries in Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University. She lives in Oakdale, Louisiana. She is the author of the Amory Ames series and the new Electra McDonnell series.