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Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict

Historical Fiction, 2020

We know Winston Churchill as an influencer in history, but how much do we know about his wife?  Though I had heard bits and pieces, this novel makes Clementine (pronounced Clem-en-teen) a lead character all her own in a story she had undeniable influence.  Historically anchored, author Marie Benedict immerses us in Clementine’s thoughts and feelings by choosing first person voice.  We discover her fight for women’s vote, her tireless work to improve conditions during London’s blitz, how she edited her husband’s speeches and negotiation strategy.  I was especially fascinated in the meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt and how it influenced Eleanor’s work in America and beyond.  But what motivated Clementine Churchill?  Was it love or ambition? No matter how you answer that question after reading the book, you will know more about the woman behind one of the leading political forces during a volatile time in world history.

 
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Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Historical Fiction, 2021

This is the little known story of the sinking of the steam ship Pulaski on its fourth journey 180 years ago. The Pulaski loaded 186 passengers for the two-night trip to Baltimore.  Often called the Titanic of the south, 128 adults and children lost their lives either in the explosion or from taking one of the 4 not so seaworthy life boats or not surviving the 5 day float without food or water before they found land. Only 58 survived.  The story itself draws you in, but Patti Callahan does more.  She builds a believable contemporary story around the historical one that helps readers take an even deeper look a “surviving survival.” She handles her alternating contemporary and historical seamlessly and with helpful storytelling movement. Her writing is rich and textured but not overdone. This book shares an inspiring story to remind us that we are not pawns of fate but the sum of the choices we make no matter what tragedy comes to change whatever we expected.

 
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Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Biblical Fiction, 2016

Connilyn Cossette is one of the respected Biblical fiction writers in a genre growing in popularity.  She crafts wonderful, research-based stories, complete with details that put you in the middle of a Jewish camp or an Egyptian home.  Each part of this Out of Egypt trilogy tells a stand-alone story, but don’t read them that way.  You’ll miss a plot twist that will surprise you like it did me.

 

Counted with the Stars -1 : Egyptian Kiya throws her survival into the hads of the Jewish people after experiencing the terrors of the plagues. We follow her nail-biting escape and embracing the God of the Jews 

Shadow of the Storm-2: Jewish Shira  also escaped from Egypt and was responsible for saving Kiya. We,follow her story for the first year of the wilderness journey. 

Wings of the Wind-3" The last book in this trilogy introduces motherless Alana, a Canaanite, who is as quick with her arrows as she is with her tongue.  Rescued from death, she must marry her rescuer according the Torah. The story that results involves  one of the best known stories in the Old Testament

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Jennifer Chiaverini has always written stories with history.  Now she delves deeper to tell even more history with her story.  Based on the true story of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, born a slave who built her dress-making business so that she could buy her freedom.  Her work was so good, she became the preferred seamstress for the elite of Washington D. C. When the Civil War split the country, Elizabeth or Lizzie as she was known, stayed and became the personal seamstress and trusted friend to Mrs. Lincoln.  While it reads like a biography, it is an engaging read, especially when it tells the heartbreaking story of what happens when a publisher convinces Lizzie to tell her story.   

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, Historical Fiction, 2013

 

Margery Benson knows more about beetles than the children she teaches in London in the 1950’s.   She had almost forgotten her dream to find the gold-winged beetle her father had told her about until a humiliating classroom experience helped her re-imagine her life with an expedition to New Caledonia to find the elusive golden beetle. What follows is a story about an unexpected friendship between the staid and reserved Miss Benson and the blond-haired beauty Enid Pretty she hired as her assistant.This was the most enjoyable read I’ve had in a long time.   Rachel Joyce knows how to take you on a journey and fill it with heartache, humor, and hope. If you need a page-turner that will keep you guessing  about what these ladies will do next, this your next read.

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce, Fiction, 2020

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7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart, How to Live Out Your Faith and Care for the Poor, by John Christopher Frame, Non-fiction, 2021

While it’s not a manual with your own personal action plan lined out, it shares the principles that must grow in your heart before they become actions of any kind. John Frame uses first person responses from his interanation encounters  of people who cope with poverty not by their own making to help us see how impossible it is to treat any form of poverty by generalization.  A companion study guide gives thoughtful questions and suggests practical ways to act on the 7 habits.  This book is for anyone looking for a balanced but convicting look at this subject.