THE LOST LOVE LETTERS OF HENRI FOURNIER by Rosalind Brackenbury

The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

What do you do when you’ve lost the love of your life?

Seb Fowler has arrived in Paris to research his literary idol, Henri Fournier. It begins with an interview granted by a woman whose affair with the celebrated writer trails back to World War I. The enchanting Pauline is fragile, but her memories are alive—those of an illicit passion, of the chances she took and never regretted, and of the twists of fate that defined her unforgettable love story.

Through Pauline’s love letters, her secrets, and a lost Fournier manuscript, Seb will come to learn so much more—about Pauline, Henri, and himself. For Seb, every moment of Pauline’s past proves to be more inspiring than he could have imagined. She’s given him the courage to grab hold of whatever life offers, to cherish each risk, and to pursue love in his life.

Intimately epic, The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier spans generations to explore every beautiful mystery of falling in love, being in love, and losing a love—and, most important, daring to love again and discovering just how resilient the human heart can be.

Spanning time from 1910 to 2013, this tale of forbidden love, war and the taboos of the time.

Little did Sebastian know that first interview with Pauline in 1975, would send him on a journey, to write his book, to fall in love and then lose her before going back to where it began. Only this time Pauline is long gone and what is left are Henri’s family.

And more lost letters and another unpublished story. And within a few weeks he is planning on selling his own home and living with the last of the family.

This is the story of a very young man, having an affair with a very married woman as well as being an actress of some fame. Henri’ is young and impressionable and full of energy and writes a beautiful book before war comes calling and Henri will not be returning.

The problem for me was the love letters. Really there wasn’t a lot told about exactly what was in them. Every thought each character had been written down and it slowed the pace significantly enough that I got bored and didn’t really care about any of them. They were all rather superficial and hard to care about. Even though they did exist. Pauline and Henri. And his body was found and returned home. The unpublished work never published but the originals were by their descendants.

I would not read it again.

NetGalley/ Lake Union Publishing June 12, 2018

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THE FACT OF A BODY-A MURDER AND A MEMOIR BY ALEXANDRIA MARZANO-LESNEVICH

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by [Marzano-Lesnevich, Alexandria]

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes—the moment she hears him speak of his crimes — she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unspeakable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed — but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe — and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

This is the Blurb for the book. The author has to be an incredibly strong woman to tell her own story of childhood abuse by a family member while telling the true story of a convicted pedophile.

This was a hard book to read. It’s honest and raw and difficult to read about. My heart bled for her and what she went through but she stuck with it and ended up finding she wasn’t the only one abused, this was a long chain of secrets, no one mentioning the elephant in the room.

A story of abuse of children, murder of a child, and the state of our Mental Health system, this will grab you and hold you for a long time.

Beautifully written and brutally honest.

Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots.

From the author of The Rival Queens, a lively group biography of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, and her four daughters, whose lives paint a vivid picture of the upheavals of 17th-century Europe

Set in the tumultuous seventeenth century, DAUGHTERS OF THE WINTER QUEEN tells the delicious and dramatic stories of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen–granddaughter of the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots–and her four unforgettable daughters.

This is the story of Elizabeth who would marry a man who became the King of Bohemia. While she gave birth to 13 children these four girls were the only ones to make it to adults. The story focuses mainly on Elizabeth until her death when more about the daughters is revealed.

Starting out in Scotland and England the author takes us to the palaces of Europe and is full of details on the wars, all the political messiness, love affairs doomed to fail,betrayals and murder even.

The daughters were individuals with unique talents. Elizabeth, the scholar, Louise was an artist, Sophia was a writer and Henrietta, well, she was a beauty. Two of the girls will become abbesses, heads of convents, never marrying. One sadly died young and the other went on to almost become the Queen of England, when her son became King George I.

Goldstone tells this story with an ease that even a novice history reader will be able to understand. I would say the book is heavy on Elizabeth until she dies, so I would have liked to have seen more about the daughters. But this story of love, loss, tragedy and triumph was one I thouroughly enjoyed.

I really enjoyed this book and if you are a Tudor lover, you must read this one!

Netgalley/April 10th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company

Stealing the Show by Joy Press~How Women Are Revolutionizing Television

Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television

From a leading cultural journalist, a definitive look at the rise of the female showrunner—and a new golden era of television.

Female writers, directors, and producers have radically transformed the television industry in recent years. Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling: These extraordinary women have shaken up the entertainment landscape, making it look like an equal opportunity dream factory.

But things weren’t always this rosy. It took decades of determination in the face of preconceived ideas and outright prejudice to reach this new era. In this endlessly informative and wildly entertaining book, veteran journalist Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades, starting with Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) and Diane English (Murphy Brown), whose iconic shows redefined America’s idea of “family values” and incited controversy that reached as far as the White House.

Barr and English inspired the next generation of female TV writers and producers to carve out the creative space and executive power needed to present radically new representations of women on the small screen. Showrunners like Amy Sherman Palladino (Gilmore Girls), Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange Is the New Black), and Jill Soloway (Transparent) created characters and storylines that changed how women are seen and how they see themselves, in the process transforming the culture.

This book looks at how these women fought to get where they are and to be treated as equals with the men who are primarily running television/film.

While I thought the book started out strong and ended strong, the middle was little more than telling us about the series episodes and what they meant.

While I enjoyed reading about the women, I felt like this book was more about the shows themselves. Much of this information everyone knows, so it wasn’t shocking or even surprising.

If you are a fan of one of these shows, you will probably find it interesting.  I did not.

Netgalley/Atria   March 06, 2018

Release Day for The Slave-Traders Letter Book! by Jim Jordan ( University of Georgia Press) Congratulations!

In 1858 Savannah businessman Charles Lamar, in violation of U.S. law, organized the shipment of hundreds of Africans on the luxury yacht Wanderer to Jekyll Island, Georgia. The four hundred survivors of the Middle Passage were sold into bondage. This was the first successful documented slave landing in the United States in about four decades and shocked a nation already on the path to civil war.

In 1886 the North American Review published excerpts from thirty of Lamar’s letters from the 1850s, reportedly taken from his letter book, which describe his criminal activities. However, the authenticity of the letters was in doubt until very recently. In 2009, researcher Jim Jordan found a cache of private papers belonging to Charles Lamar’s father, stored for decades in an attic in New Jersey. Among the documents was Charles Lamar’s letter book, confirming him as the author.

This book has two parts. The first recounts the flamboyant and reckless life of Lamar himself, including Lamar’s involvement in southern secession, the slave trade, and a plot to overthrow the government of Cuba. A portrait emerges at odds with Lamar’s previous image as a savvy entrepreneur and principled rebel. Instead, we see a man who was often broke and whose volatility sabotaged him at every turn. His involvement in the slave trade was driven more by financial desperation than southern defiance. The second part presents the “Slave-Trader’s Letter-Book.” Together with annotations, these seventy long-lost letters shed light on the lead-up to the Civil War from the remarkable perspective of a troubled, and troubling, figure.

As a history buff and researcher, this title appealed to me right away. I am from the Brunswick/Jekyll Island area and my family has been there since before we were a country.

Lamar is a reckless and troubled man. Having his livelihood pretty much handed to him by his father, he proceeds to run every business he touches into the ground.

The book give the reader quite a bit of information that even I haven’t seen before. These letters are a valuable piece of history not only for Georgia but for the entire country. I would hope that this information would be widely spread in our schools.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone searching for answers about our beginnings and what almost tore our country apart.

The Best of My 2017 Awards!

It’s true. Today is your last reading day of the year! Have you met your Goodreads Challenge? All caught up on your Netgalley Reviews? Happy to say yes, I am. And following are some but by no means all of the best in their genres.

Best Debut Fiction:   Jennifer Irwin for A Dress The Color of The Sky. A book about addictions and breaking cycles. Movie rights have already been grabbed by Reese Witherspoon! I admire Jennifer so much for her work ethic and her writing skills!

A Dress the Color of the Sky

Best Historical Fiction: Katherine Arden for the follow-up to her award-winning The Bear and The Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower which was just as brilliant as the first book!

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy, #2)

Best Thriller: Karin Slaughter with The Good Daughter. Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind.

The Good Daughter

Best Suspense Thriller: J.T.Ellison with Lie to Me. This was such a web of lies and deceit, you won’t unravel it until the spider is ready to jump!

Lie to Me

Best Crime Thriller:  Don Winslow with The Force. Another brilliant contribution by a favorite author! No one does crime like Winslow!

The Force

Best Horror Crime: J.D.Barker with The Fourth Monkey! Fans of the movie Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

 

The Fourth Monkey (A 4MK Thriller, #1)

Best Cozy Mystery: A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

A Cajun Christmas Killing (Cajun Country Mystery #3)

Best Non-Fiction: Helene Cooper with Madame President.The harrowing, but triumphant story of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of the Liberian women’s movement, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the first democratically elected female president in African history.

Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Best Mystery: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night

Best Cookbook:  The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews

The Beach House Cookbook

Best General Fiction: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward who blew my mind with this book set in my Mississippi town.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

There could be hundreds more of the over 200 I read this year, but all of these I have read more than once, so that says a lot when you have a TBR list as long as mine.

What were your Best Reads of the Year?

So 2017 all I can say to you is Good bye!

The Slave-Trader’s Letter-Book by Jim Jordan ( University of Georgia Press)

n 1858 Savannah businessman Charles Lamar, in violation of U.S. law, organized the shipment of hundreds of Africans on the luxury yacht Wanderer to Jekyll Island, Georgia. The four hundred survivors of the Middle Passage were sold into bondage. This was the first successful documented slave landing in the United States in about four decades and shocked a nation already on the path to civil war.

In 1886 the North American Review published excerpts from thirty of Lamar’s letters from the 1850s, reportedly taken from his letter book, which describe his criminal activities. However, the authenticity of the letters was in doubt until very recently. In 2009, researcher Jim Jordan found a cache of private papers belonging to Charles Lamar’s father, stored for decades in an attic in New Jersey. Among the documents was Charles Lamar’s letter book, confirming him as the author.

This book has two parts. The first recounts the flamboyant and reckless life of Lamar himself, including Lamar’s involvement in southern secession, the slave trade, and a plot to overthrow the government of Cuba. A portrait emerges at odds with Lamar’s previous image as a savvy entrepreneur and principled rebel. Instead, we see a man who was often broke and whose volatility sabotaged him at every turn. His involvement in the slave trade was driven more by financial desperation than southern defiance. The second part presents the “Slave-Trader’s Letter-Book.” Together with annotations, these seventy long-lost letters shed light on the lead-up to the Civil War from the remarkable perspective of a troubled, and troubling, figure.

As a history buff and researcher, this title appealed to me right away. I am from the Brunswick/Jekyll Island area and my family has been there since before we were a country.

Lamar is a reckless and troubled man. Having his livelihood pretty much handed to him by his father, he proceeds to run every business he touches into the ground.

The book give the reader quite a bit of information that even I haven’t seen before. These letters are a valuable piece of history not only for Georgia but for the entire country. I would hope that this information would be widely spread in our schools.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone searching for answers about our beginnings and what almost tore our country apart.

Netgalley/University of Georgia Press  January Release.