FROM THE ASHES by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE has become One of my Favorite Books of All Time. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK. Open Worldwide

Title: FROM THE ASHES

Subtitle: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

Author: JESSE THISTLE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, ADDICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, MÉTIS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, HOMELESSNESS

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 6, 2019

ISBN: 9781982101213

Price: $24.99 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heart-warming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
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MY REVIEW:

FROM THE ASHES is written by the uber-talented Métis-Cree Canadian author JESSE THISTLE. This is a touching and incredibly honest  memoir written by the man most people believed would not live long enough to straighten out his life.

Those people have been proven wrong and FROM THE ASHES tells Jesse’s life story so far.

FROM THE ASHES by Jesse Thistle is one of the most well written and honest memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Jesse is a Métis Canadian and although he never once blames his situation on colonization, his story and the situations his family was forced into by the Canadian government are perfect illustrations of it’s cause and effect.

Jesse’s memoir is written with bone-jarring honesty and will get under the reader’s skin. Only a sociopath would be able to read this book and not feel the power of the written word.

This is the story of a young man who turned to drugs and alcohol to try to push down the pain he felt inside. It is a story that seems bleak at times, but ultimately shows the strength of the human spirit. It is the story of the struggle, literally, for Jesse’s survival.

Without giving away too much of Jesse’s story, I want potential readers to know that this memoir is one that will remain with them long, long after the final page. To go from homeless to becoming a celebrated memoirist is a feat worthy of legend.

Jesse Thistle might not agree, but I see him as a modern day Theseus, fighting his way out of the labyrinth of poverty and Addiction.

This book is one of my Top Ten Best Books of the Modern Era.

To win a softcover copy of this book, leave a comment on this post, then click HERE for ways to get additional entries into the Giveaway. OPEN WORLDWIDE. ENDS FEBRUARY 29, 2020.

You can also enter to win this book on my Instagram account: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography Credit:
LUCIE THISTLE

JESSE THISTLE is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

He is an assistant professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto.

He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

He lives in Toronto with his wife, Lucie.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AWARDS WON BY JESSE:

  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Award – Ph. D., Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. 2016 – 2019 ($240,000; $40,000 per year of study, plus $20,000 annual research and travel budget).
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS SSHRC) – Ph.D., Canadian Institute of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($150,000 – $50,000 per year of study).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Doctoral of Philosophy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($105,000 – $35,000 per year of study). (Declined because he took the Trudeau Award and the Vanier CGS SSHRC Award).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Master’s, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2015 ($17,500).
  • 2016 Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada Post-Secondary Student of the Year Award—Nation-wide. (Prestige).
  • Dan Watt Scholarship (Awarded to the Master’s level graduate student with the top GPA entering Waterloo’s Master’s program) – Master’s, Waterloo University. 2015 ($1,500).
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015 ($10,000).
  • Odessa Essay Prize for the Study of Canada (York University, university wide). 2015 ($1000).
  • The Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, York University. 2015 (Prestige: Name inscribed on Vari Hall Rotunda, Keele Campus).
  • The Dr. James Wu Prize Best Honours Thesis/Major Research Paper for York University’s 3rd Annual Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair 2015 ($1000).
  • Miziwe Biik: Aboriginal Education Award, 2015 ($1000), 2014 ($1000), 2013 ($2000).
  • Desmond Hart Memorial Essay Award Winner. History; York University, 4000 level, 2014 ($200).
  • Indispire: Building Better Indigenous Futures Post-Secondary Education Award, 2015 ($7500), 2014 ($5000), 2013 ($6900) & 2012 ($2000).
  • The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Essay Prize Winner, York University, 3000 level Anthropology, 2014 ($100).
  • York University Faculty Association Foundation Undergraduate (YUFA) Scholarship, highest cumulative grade point average in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. GPA 8.59 and Major GPA 8.73. 2014 ($3500).
  • International Scholar Laureate Nominee. Golden Key IHS: 2013.
  • Arthur Francis Williams Award in Canadian Studies, 2013 ($500).
  • Morris Krever History Prize Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($1000).
  • The Enbridge Inc. Scholarship Award, 2013 ($2365).
  • The Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto Award Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($300).
  • William Westfall Canadian Studies Essay Prize, History, York University, 3000 level, 2013.
  • York PhD Graduate Scholarship, York University, 2017 ($3000).

Bursary Awards

  • York University Continuing Student Scholarship Bursary (given to students above 7.00 grade point average), 2014 ($768), 2013 ($576) & 2012 ($864).
  • Aboriginal PSET Bursary, York University, 2012 ($2600).
  • York University Undergrad Bursary, 2012 ($1010).

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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS AND/OR TO DOWNLOAD INFORMATION AS WELL AS LESSON PLANS, GO TO THE HOMELESS HUB:

RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Anne Jolie is a 5 STAR MEMOIR candidly opening up the most intimate of details about her life. This is destined to reach the top of The New York Times Bestseller List

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Title: RUST BELT FEMME

Author: RAECHEL ANNE JOLIE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, LGBTQ

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: BELT PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781948742634

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.

After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas.

It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.
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MY REVIEW:

“This story, then, is about growing up in poverty in rural Ohio, finding hope in the alternative culture I’d discovered in Cleveland, and how my complicated love for these people and these places is a tenacious part of everything I’ve done since leaving it. Every bit of it turned me into the queer femme feminist writer I am today…”

“In between [her childhood] and now are Northeast Ohio landmarks that left scars, sometimes like kisses and sometimes like razor blades.”

RUST BELT FEMME is a love letter to the good, the bad, and the Very Bad incidents, people and places which have coalesced, forming Raechel into the person and the destiny that had been hers all along.

Raechel’s candor is refreshing, and as such, her personality shines through with every word she writes. I have read reviews referring to the sometimes crude language she uses as inappropriate, but I have to disagree with that assessment. Raechel was raised in a blue collar home and the language she often uses in her book reflects that fact. A memoir can be written with lyrical prose of the very best kind and yet still be a flop with its intended readers. Why does this happen? I believe one word can sum up why a memoir either succeeds or fails; that word is AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity is (or should be) the goal of all memoir/auto-biographical authors. RUST BELT FEMME has authenticity in spades.

Having never heard of Raechel Anne Jolie before seeing the listing for this book on the NetGalley website, I began reading Rust Belt Femme with no preconceived notions of it’s content. Because of this, every new morsel of information was eagerly awaited and Raechel did not disappoint.

RUST BELT FEMME proves just how important childhood events are in the formation of the adult we will become. Raechel’s loss of her father figure at such a  tender age was the single event upon which her  childhood took a distinctly darker turn. Despite her family’s economic issues, she “… never doubted that [her] mom loved [her] more than anything, and that she would love [her] profoundly and without condition. There was never one instance when she made [her] feel like [she] had to change, not one second when she didn’t make it clear that [Raechel] was the most important thing to her in the world.”

In her Introduction, Raechel states: “… whether our neurology is burdened by trauma or not, I think most of us who are drawn to memoir are burdened with an incurable case of nostalgia.” I agree wholeheartedly and admit that I am afflicted with the exact nostalgia she is talking about, and in reading RUST BELT FEMME, that desire was 100% fulfilled.

I rate RUST BELT FEMME as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and highly recommend this book to all my fellow memoir lovers.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Raechel Anne Jolie believes in astrology, the power of collective resistance, and meeting a deadline. She is, first and foremost, an educator and an activist dedicated to making this world a little bit better than she found it. But she is also: a cat-mom, a yogi, a witch, a Media and Gender Studies PhD, a vegan, a podcaster, and a writer.

Her writing has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Teen Vogue, Autostraddle (and more), and she’s been interviewed as an expert in her field for Rolling Stone, NPR, and the CBC. (If you’re interested in her academic work, you can check out her CV).

She also co-hosted/produced the Feminist Killjoys, PhD podcast with Dr. Melody Hoffmann. For three years, they brought smart and funny reflection to discussions on politics and pop culture.

Raechel is also queer AF, and a lot of her writing is about being femme and growing up poor. She also writes about: pop culture, politics, social movements, feminism, and health. If you’re into that sort of thing, she just might be your grrrrl.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – BELT PUBLISHING

TWITTER

SOUNDCLOUD  

FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

CHAPTERS

QUOTES I LOVED:

“A PhD and multiple major-city addresses can never change that being poor is written in my blood and my bones as much as it is sung from my tight skirts and cheap lipstick.”

“Being poor, really, became the building blocks of my gender; this embodied expression we in the queer community call femme. It’s a type of femininity that I have come to realize is inextricable from the shape of early poverty, the shades of the rural edges of Cleveland, and for me, the sound of punk.”

“I was seduced out of my poor ‘white trash’ town first into the arms of the artist culture on Coventry Road, then later by the punks in Lakewood.”

“… my heroes became the women who survived despite men’s absences. Whether the men were taken from homes by car accidents or jail or a restraining order, by the time I was five, I was surrounded almost entirely by resilient women.”

“We built, like layering bricks and cement, a home out of our love, the only thing sturdy on any given day. Our fights were hurricanes, our love though, indelible.”

“… we were using anger as a shield to protect us from facing deep hurt and immense fear in the face of scarcity. We’d chase it with tenderness because how else could we face the day? It was a Pyrrhic skill that I continue to carry with me… It was a terrible way to learn love, but it was better than not knowing love at all.”

“I remember … the flicker of the marquee mixed with a street lamp. It was a soft yellow-white. Muted but also vivid. It’s how I felt most days after that. My brain buzzing with potential – with what my life could, would, should be – but also deeply grounded in the present, in exactly who and where I was.”

Interviewed In

How to be an Ally to Trans People” 

“Orange is the new Black’s Instagram Chooses Fandom Over Social Justice” 

“Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers” 

​“Warning Labels on College Courses?”
On Point with Tom Ashbrook 

Selected Publications

Rag Queen Periodical 

“Over the Shoulders”  

INTOmore.com

“Boston League of Wicked Wrestlers” (profile)  

Inside Higher Ed ​

“How to Cope without a Full-Time Job Offer” 

The Huffington Post

“Buzz About Kristen Stewart’s Sexuality Tells Us a Lot About Society’s Discomfort with Bisexuality” 

Autostraddle

“The Riot Isn’t Over: 6 Movements that Map Militancy in LGBT History”  

The Body is Not an Apology

“5 ways to navigate your partner’s wealth during the holidays”

The Daily Dot

“It’s time to stop believing America’s biggest myth about welfare”


 

In Media Res

“Post-Feminism & the Dehumanization of Sex Workers in SNL’s Moet & Chandon Sketch” 

Mask Magazine

“High Risk: The Automation of Pretrial Detention” 

Scarleteen

“A sex-positive and transformative justice approach to #MeToo” 

The Huffington Post

“University Shamefully Orders the Arrest of Students Fight for a More Just University System”

“Five Things to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act”    

FRAGILE REMEDY by Maria Ingrande Mora is an upcoming 2020 Young Adult Dystopian Fiction novel with LGBTQ characters and written by a Queer Author. It is a 5 STAR Read that I was unable to put down.

Title: FRAGILE REMEDY

Author: MARIA INGRANDE MORA

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, LGBTQ, QUEER YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION,  SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: FLUX BOOKS – A Division of  NORTHSTAR EDITIONS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63583-057-6 (EBOOK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a Gem—a Genetically Engineered Medical Surrogate—created by Gathos City scientists as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, Nate was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. He manages to survive by becoming a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their Gems—a flaw in their DNA that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. When violence erupts across the Withers, Nate’s illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay—and die—with the boy he loves.
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MY REVIEW:

“His kind had been developed by scientists to fight the lung-rot outbreak, and later — when the lung-rot was gone — to be used up. Harvested by the wealthy. Kept endlessly asleep or left awake to participate in the horror of it. At least that’s what people said when they whispered about GEMs…Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue. He wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Nate is sixteen and an abomination. At least, that is what he had been told. He knew he wasn’t like everyone else in the Withers. He was starving and scraping together a meager existence, just like everyone else who had the bad luck to live in The Withers – a slum filled with people who would not hesitate to kill you for food, or for anything they could use to trade for Chem to feed their addiction.

Nate knew that if the members of his gang discovered he was a GEM, they would either kill him for putting their lives in danger, or they would turn him over to the Breakers – never to be seen again. He didn’t want to put his friend’s lives in danger, especially Reed’s, but he loved being a gang member, they were the closest thing he had to a family. And, although he had never admitted it out loud, he not only loved Reed, he was also IN LOVE with him.

Just surviving the streets of The Withers was challenge enough, but Nate had another problem, his genetically engineered DNA (and that of all GEMs) had been modified so that his body would deteriorate and he would perish before ever reaching adulthood. He needed to find a way to survive, and he knew it would not be easy.

The world-building in FRAGILE REMEDY is second to none. With vivid descriptions of the slums known as The Withers so descriptive it is impossible not to form pictures of it in your mind. I love the fact that the world in which Nate lives is comprised of islands, and instead of water separating each island, and each social class, from the other, there is a vast ocean of toxic sludge which is fatal once submersed in it.

There are numerous parallels between our own society and the issues planet Earth is currently experiencing to the world of FRAGILE REMEDY. For example:

The society in FRAGILE REMEDY is segregated between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots.’  The high class citizens live in the Towers of Gathos City and never leave their perfect lives to see how anyone else lives. It is these people who create and keep GEMs so that they can extend their own lives by using the GEMs blood and body parts. This may sound far fetched, but cloning already exists, and stem cells are already being used in medical treatments. Is it really so unbelievable that in humanity’s quest to extend human lives, something like creating a clone for the purpose of using ‘it’ as a personal organ bank may be inevitable.

Of course, it would be expensive to create a clone, so only the uber-rich would be able to afford such a luxury, thus creating another socioeconomic division amongst the world’s population.

Once the clones are created, the rich clone owners would want to protect their assets. This could easily lead to physical segregation similar to that of the islands on which Nate has spent the entirety of his sixteen years of life.

ADDICTION is another of the central themes of FRAGILE REMEDY. Instead of being addicted to alcohol or opiods, the addicts in this story are fiends for a substance known as Chem. “They’d all been regular people once. People who’d made choices – good and bad. Chem had wrenched those choices out of their hands.”

Another theme is HOPE. In FRAGILE REMEDY, Nate may not have many possessions, and he is aware that he will die sooner rather than later, but he still has hope. He hopes that he can do some good before he dies. He hopes that Reed feels the same way about Nate as Nate feels about Reed. And in a wider sense, the inhabitants of The Withers scrounge a meager living on a daily basis, but they still have hope that at some point, the doors to Gathos City will open to admit them.

I love the fact that the characters in this story are diverse and multi-faceted. Sparks is Trans, Nate is Gay, Alden is Queer, and other characters are Cisgender. Skin color is so rarely mentioned that I chose to believe that it was not a factor in their society.

Central to the story and to life in both Gathos City and in The Withers is the ethics of cloning as well as the question of what it is that truly makes a person human. With the increasingly complex technology and the numerous companies and laboratories working on the advancement of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence,)

There are plots and subplots, there are individual histories for each character, there is the storyline where  their lives intersect. There are romances and romantic entanglements that will satisfy even the most diehard romantic. And, finally, there is the theme of Family, and the fact that sometimes the people you choose to invest your emotions in make a more loyal family than those who share your DNA.

I started reading  this book yesterday morning and was unable (and unwilling) to put it down. I spent twelve straight hours reading FRAGILE REMEDY and they were hours well spent.

There is only one rating I would even consider giving to this book and that is the best possible one. So, I rate FRAGILE REMEDY as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am sincerely hoping that author MARIA INGRANDE MORA is planning to write additional books in this series. I will be first in line to grab a copy of any book she writes.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book ***
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FAVORITE QUOTES:

“He [Nate] longed for the simplicity of believing in something good. He’d seen too much of the bad to have faith.”
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“He had no right to love Reed. But the soft, private smile on Reed’s lips when their eyes met still sent a current of affection through him.”
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“Nate approached slowly, the way hungry kids stalked sludge-rats.”
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“‘They’ll make him sleep like they do in Gathos City.’ His voice went ragged. ‘They’ll cut him apart. What were you thinking coming here?'”
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“I feel the need to remind you that my grandmother also believed that the cockroaches in her bedroom were trying to get a look at her knickers.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maria Ingrande Mora (she/her) is Content Director at Big Sea, a digital marketing agency in St. Petersburg, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida, she has been working in digital media since 2002. Maria specializes in identifying brand narratives and translating them into messaging that doesn’t feel like marketing.

Maria is the single mom of a tween and a teen, and the roomate of two cats and two dogs.

She identifies as bisexual, and hopes that it isn’t super weird of her to outright say, because representation and visibility matter.

If she isn’t writing, revising, or at work, please tell her to go to bed.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.mariamora.net

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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https://t.co/Av9RMbehc8
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UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by HARRIET BEECHER STOWE is a book every civilized adult needs to read

Title: UNCLE TOM’S CABIN

Alternative Titles: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly”

Author: HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

Publication Date: 1852

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DESCRIPTION:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in full Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in serialized form in the United States in 1851–52 and in book form in 1852.

An abolitionist novel, it achieved wide popularity, particularly among white readers in the North, by vividly dramatizing the experience of slavery.

© Photos.com/Thinkstock
Uncle Tom’s Cabin tells the story of Uncle Tom, depicted as a saintly, dignified slave. While being transported by boat to auction in New Orleans, Tom saves the life of Little Eva, whose grateful father then purchases Tom. Eva and Tom soon become great friends. Always frail, Eva’s health begins to decline rapidly, and on her deathbed she asks her father to free all his slaves. He makes plans to do so but is then killed, and the brutal Simon Legree, Tom’s new owner, has Tom whipped to death after he refuses to divulge the whereabouts of certain runaway slaves. Tom maintains a steadfastly Christian attitude toward his own suffering, and Stowe imbues Tom’s death with echoes of Christ’s.

Some 300,000 copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin were sold in the United States during the year after its publication, and it also sold well in England. It was adapted for theatre multiple times beginning in 1852; because the novel made use of the themes and techniques of theatrical melodrama popular at the time, its transition to the stage was easy. These adaptations played to capacity audiences in the United States and contributed to the already significant popularity of Stowe’s novel in the North and the animosity toward it in the South. They became a staple of touring companies through the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th.

Stowe’s depiction of slavery in her novel was informed by her Christianity and by her immersion in abolitionist writings. She also drew on her personal experience during the 1830s and ’40s while living in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was a destination for those escaping slavery in Kentucky and other Southern states. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin she made her case against slavery by cataloging the suffering experienced by enslaved people and by showing that their owners were morally broken. Stowe also published a collection of documents and testimony, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853), that she used to prove the truth of her novel’s representation of slavery.

The role of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a cause of the American Civil War is rooted in a statement—typically rendered as “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”—that is spuriously attributed to President Abraham Lincoln. According to scholar Daniel R. Vollaro , this comment, supposedly made by Lincoln to Stowe in December 1862, originated in Stowe family tradition and did not appear in print until 1896 (albeit as “Is this the little woman who made the great war?” ). That Lincoln almost certainly did not say these words, however, has not prevented them from being cited repeatedly as Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s legacy.

The novel’s reputation became problematic during the 20th century. In a 1952 introduction to the novel, Langston Hughes referred to Uncle Tom’s Cabin as “a moral battle cry,” but his introduction’s effort to redeem the novel came after Richard Wright and James Baldwin, among other black writers, had attacked it during the 1930s and ’40s. The term Uncle Tom also became an insult used to describe a black person who shows subservience to whites or is otherwise considered complicit with oppression by whites. This sense can be traced to at least the early 20th century, and early public use of it (c. 1920) has been attributed variously to Marcus Garvey and George Alexander McGuire. Today Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s depiction of its black characters is seen as racist and patronizing.

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MY REVIEW:

In 1852 when Uncle Tom’s Cabin was originally published, it was highly controversial. In fact, it was banned in many places in the Southern United States due to it’s abolitionist rhetoric.

Although society has come a long way since Harriet Beecher Stowe first put pen to paper and wrote about the horrific reality of slavery, however, discrimination still occurs. It is for that reason that I believe every civilized adult in North America and beyond should be required to read this book, regardless of the color of their skin.

There is a saying that states:

“Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

I truly and very firmly believe that knowledge is power. Yes, slavery was abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. However, what our society is seeing now is a hidden sex slave trade which is unfortunately alive and well all over the world. Reading books such as UNCLE TOM’S CABIN is important. It reminds us of how terrible human beings can act and (hopefully) stirs outrage in the reader’s heart.

I am aware that some people think of this book as racist, but I am trying to overlook the way the slaves are depicted as a consequence of the time in which the book was written.

I have no proof, but putting forward the idea to those of color that this book is racist, is/was a great way to stop people from reading it – similar to reverse psychology, but, that is just a theory.

Despite the way the characters are portrayed, I still believe this book was the catalyst that brought many white people (especially women) to join the abolitionist movement and to assist the Underground Railroad in any way they could. I believe this book opened the eyes of many of its readers.

I rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I encourage everyone to read this book. If you haven’t read it yet, now is the time. If you’ve read it, but it was a long time ago, I encourage you to read it again and to allow it’s message to penetrate your hearts and minds.

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Picture Obtained From Britannica

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MLA – Michals, Debra. “Harriet Beecher Stowe.” National Women’s History Museum, 2017. Date accessed.

10 Amazing Facts About Harriet Beecher Stowe

Over 41 issues, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published as a serial in the abolitionist newspaper The National Era, the first installment on June 5, 1851. It was first followed by a only small group but its audience steadily grew as the story unfolded.

“Wherever I went among the friends of the Era, I found Uncle Tom’s Cabin a theme for admiring remark,” journalist and social critic Grace Greenwood wrote in a travelogue published in the Era. “[E]verywhere I went, I saw it read with pleasant smiles and irrepressible tears.’” The story was discussed in other abolitionist publications, such as Frederick Douglass’s Paper, and helped sell $2 annual subscriptions to the Era.

The popularity of Uncle Tom’s Cabin exploded once it was made available in a more accessible format.

Some publishers claim the book edition is the second best-selling title of the 19th century, after the Bible.

1. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE’S FATHER AND ALL SEVEN OF HER BROTHERS WERE MINISTERS.

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her mother, Roxana Beecher, died five years later. Over the course of two marriages, her father, Calvinist preacher Lyman Beecher, fathered 13 children, 11 of whom survived into adulthood. He preached loudly against slavery. All seven of his sons followed him into the ministry. Henry Ward Beecher carried on his father’s abolitionist mission and according to legend sent rifles to anti-slavery settlers in Kansas and Nebraska in crates marked “Bibles.”

The women of the Beecher family were also encouraged to rise to positions of influence and rally against injustice. Eldest child Catharine Beecher co-founded the Hartford Female Seminary and Isabella Beecher Hooker was a prominent suffragist.

2. THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT—AND A SURPRISE $100 GIFT—INSPIRED UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.

In 1832, Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati with her father, who assumed the presidency of Lane Theological Seminary. According to Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life by Joan D. Hedrick, the Ohio city introduced her to former slaves and African-American freemen and there she first practiced writing, in a literary group called the Semi-Colon Club.

She married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at Lane, and eventually relocated to Brunswick, Maine, when he went to work at Bowdoin College. By then, Stowe had published two books, Primary Geography for Children and the short story collection New England Sketches. She was also a contributor to newspapers supporting temperance and abolitionism, writing “sketches,” brief descriptive stories meant to illustrate a political point.

Following a positive response to her The Freeman’s Dream: A Parable, Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the anti-slavery paper The National Era, sent her $100 to encourage her to continue supplying the paper with material. The 1850 passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, obligating authorities in free states to re-enslave refugees, took the slavery fight northward. It also encouraged Stowe to step up her game.

“I am at present occupied upon a story which will be a much longer one than any I have ever written,” Beecher Stowe wrote in a letter to Bailey, “embracing a series of sketches which give the lights and shadows of the ‘patriarchal institution’ [of slavery], written either from observation, incidents which have occurred in the sphere of my personal knowledge, or in the knowledge of my friends.” For material, she scoured the written accounts belayed by escaped slaves.

3. UNCLE TOM’S CABIN MADE HER RICH AND FAMOUS.

According to Henry Louis Gate Jr.’s introduction to the annotated edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The National Era paid Stowe $300 for 43 chapters. Before the serial’s completion, Stowe signed a contract with John P. Jewett and Co. to publish a two-volume bound book edition, and that’s when it really took off. Released on March 20, 1852, the book sold 10,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week and 300,000 in the first year. In the U.K., 1.5 million copies flew off the shelves in the first year. Stowe was paid 10 cents for each one sold.

According to a London Times article published six months after the book’s release, she had already amassed $10,000 in royalties. “We believe [that this is] the largest sum of money ever received by any author, either American or European, from the sales of a single work in so short a period of time,” the Times stated.

4. SHE WENT TO COURT TO STOP AN UNAUTHORIZED TRANSLATION OF UNCLE TOM’S CABIN … AND LOST.

Immediately after Uncle Tom’s Cabin became a literary sensation, a Philadelphia-based German-language paper, Die Freie Presse, began publishing an unauthorized translation. Stowe took the publisher, F.W. Thomas,to court. American copyright laws were notoriously weak at the time, irking British writers whose work was widely pirated. As someone who overnight became America’s favorite author, Stowe had much at stake testing them.

The case put her in the Philadelphia courtroom of Justice Robert Grier, a notorious enforcer of the Fugitive Slave Act. “By the publication of Mrs. Stowe’s book, the creations of the genius and imagination of the author have become as much public property as those of Homer or Cervantes,” Grier ruled. The precedent set by Stowe vs. Thomas meant that authors had the right to prevent others from printing their exact words, but almost nothing else. “All her conceptions and inventions may be used and abused by imitators, play-rights and poet-asters,” ruled Grier.

5. BEECHER STOWE VISITED ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Though Stowe had criticized what she saw as his slowness in emancipation and willingness to seek compromise to prevent succession, Stowe visited President Abraham Lincoln at the White House in 1862, during the early days of the Civil War. Reportedly, Lincoln greeted her with, “So this is the little woman who brought on this big Civil War,” but scholars have dismissed the quote as Stowe family legend spread after her death.

Details of their conversation are limited to vague entries in their respective diaries. Lincoln may have bantered with her over his love of open fires (“I always had one to home,” he reportedly said), while Stowe got down to business and quizzed him: “Mr. Lincoln, I want to ask you about your views on emancipation.”

6. BEECHER STOWE WROTE A LOT OF THINGS THAT WEREN’T UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.

Stowe wrote more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, plus essays, poems, articles, and hymns.

7. THE STOWES WINTERED IN THE FORMER SLAVE STATE OF FLORIDA.

The influx of wealth from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the end of the Civil War allowed the Stowes to purchase a winter home in Mandarin, Florida, in 1867. It may have seemed strange—and perilous—for a famous anti-slavery crusader to buy 30 acres in a former slave state so soon after the war, yet six years after the purchase, she wrote to a local newspaper, “In all this time I have not received even an incivility from any native Floridian.”

8. BEECHER STOWE AND MARK TWAIN WERE NEIGHBORS.

The Stowes’ primary residence, beginning in 1864, was a villa in the Nook Farm section of Hartford, Connecticut, a neighborhood populated by prominent citizens, including Mark Twain. The homes of Nook Farm had few fences, and doors stayed open in sunny weather, creating an air of gentility. That did not prevent Twain from writing a somewhat unflattering portrait of Stowe, as she gave way to what was probably Alzheimer’s disease, in his autobiography:

Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe who was a near neighbor of ours in Hartford, with no fence between. In those days she made as much use of our grounds as of her own in pleasant weather. Her mind had decayed, and she was a pathetic figure. She wandered about all the day long in the care of a muscular Irishwoman, assigned to her as a guardian.”

9. BEECHER STOWE OUTLIVED FOUR OF HER SEVEN CHILDREN.

While continuing a lucrative and prolific writing career, Stowe birthed and cared forseven children. When she passed away in 85 in 1896, she had outlived four of them, as bad fortune seemed to follow their offspring.

Their third, Henry, drowned in a swimming accident in 1857. The fourth, Frederick, mysteriously disappeared en route to California in 1870. The fifth, Georgiana, died from septicemia, probably related to morphine in 1890. (She was an addict.) The sixth, Samuel, died from cholera in infancy in 1849. These losses informed several of Stowe’s works.

10. THERE ARE SEVERAL HARRIET BEECHER STOWE HOUSES YOU CAN VISIT.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House of Cincinnati is where she lived after following her father to Lane. The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on the campus of Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine, is where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It became a restaurant from 1946 to 1998 and is now a faculty office building, but one room is open to the public and dedicated to Stowe. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves her home in Hartford. Her home in Florida is gone but is marked by a plaque.

Poster for a theatrical production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1881.

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU by David Kirby is Available NOW – Have You Ever Wondered About Your Rights, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK

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Title: WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU

Subtitle: How Police and Government Are Trampling Our Liberties – and How to Take Them Back

Author: DAVID KIRBY

Publisher: ST. MARTINS PRESS

Release Date: OCTOBER 29, 2019

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A revealing book about how government, law enforcement, and bureaucratic interests are seizing our property, our children, our savings, and our fundamental American rights—and how to fight back.

Liberty and justice for all is the bedrock of American democracy, but has America betrayed our founders’ vision for the nation? In When They Come For You, New York Times bestselling author David Kirby exposes federal, state, and local violations of basic constitutional rights that should trouble every American, whether liberal, conservative, or libertarian. Free speech, privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, due process, and equal protection under the law are rights that belong to every American citizen, but are being shredded at an alarming rate all across the country.

Police and prosecutorial misconduct, overzealous bureaucrats with virtually unchecked power, unwarranted searches, SWAT-style raids on the homes of innocent Americans, crackdowns on a free press and the right to protest, removing children from their parents without cause, “debtors prisons,” restricting freedom of health choice, seizing private assets for government profit, and much more demonstrate how deeply our rights and our national values are eroding. When They Come For You uses true stories of everyday citizens to reveal how our federal, state, and municipal governments, police, lawmakers, judges, revenue agents, unelected power brokers, and even government social workers are eviscerating our most fundamental liberties. And, it shows how people are fighting back—and winning.

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MY REVIEW:

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU is a terrifying, yet hopeful look at what is going on currently in the United States.

Initially, readers may think the author is a Conspiracy Theorist, but will quickly discover that author David Kirby has definitely done his homework for this book.

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU is incredibly well researched and every American needs to read it. If you thought you knew what the government and other large corporations are up to, you would be Dead-Wrong.

Although the discoveries he made are very scary, David Kirby does not just point out the issues/problems, he also offers up hope in the form of suggestions on how to live an informed and proactive life.

I have no idea who it was that originally said, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem,” but he/she/they were very much correct. However, it is very difficult to help fix an issue if you aren’t aware that the problem exists. Read this book and begin to be proactive rather than reactive.

I rate this book as
4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kirby has written for many national magazines, including Glamour, Redbook, Self and Mademoiselle. From 1986 to 1990, Kirby was a foreign correspondent for UPI, and Newsday (among others) in Latin America, covering wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and he covered politics, corruption and natural disasters in Mexico. It was during this time that he was also a reporter for OutWeek.

From 1990 to 1993, Kirby was director of public information at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), worked for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy, and was a senior staff adviser to David Dinkins’ successful 1989 run for mayor of New York City.

In 1998, Kirby wrote a cover story for The Advocate, “Does coming out matter?”.[1] From 1998 to 2001, he wrote many articles for The Advocate, including one on the courage of young gay and lesbian scouts and service members.[2]

From 2000 to 2004, Kirby contributed several articles on travel to The New York Times, including “Rainbow Beach Towels on Mexican Sand”, an article on the gay tourism industry in Puerto Vallarta.[3] He has also written on topics other than travel and leisure, including on a new phenomenon, known as “dirty driving”, the playing pornography on DVD screens inside vehicles while they drive through traffic.[4] The article expressed concern for what children have been exposed to by these “dirty drivers”.

In 2005, Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm – Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy was published.

Since May 2005, Kirby has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://davidkirbyauthor.com

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

How much do you really know about the Bill of Rights? Learn more about the most important amendments to the Constitution — and what they actually mean for ordinary US citizens.

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READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK BELOW:

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WHEN COPS BURST THROUGH YOUR DOOR: WARRANTLESS HOME RAIDS

You are relaxing with your family at home one evening when a band of armed thugs crashes through the door and invades your house. Their shouting is terrifying. Glass breaks, walls are smashed, and your children scream. When the men grab you, you resist, so they beat you and use a stun gun—or maybe even a real gun—against you. You are now battered and bloody, frightened and confused. The home invaders wrench you and your loved ones from your sanctuary and, in the dark of night, whisk you away in a car.

Now imagine these hooligans are wearing uniforms and badges.

Your home is your castle, impervious to entry by any agent of the state unless you grant them permission, or if they show up with a warrant signed by a judge—with the exception of certain emergency situations.

But some cops don’t see it that way. They all but ignore the Fourth Amendment and its protections against “unreasonable search and seizure.”

You may think you are safe in the security and privacy of your four walls. So did the people profiled here. As with so many issues concerning abridgment of civil liberties, you never know it can happen until it happens to you.

The nation’s founders wisely created the Fourth Amendment to act as a personal firewall against overzealous policing:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The amendment protects us against warrantless searches and raids of places where we have a “legitimate expectation of privacy”—legally defined as an expectation that is generally accepted by society as being “reasonable.”

But what is reasonable and what is not? That question has been rigorously litigated in U.S. courts for decades. In making a determination, courts must strike a balance between protecting privacy rights and maintaining the legitimate interests of the state, such as upholding public safety. Unfortunately, in recent decades marked by violent crime and the growing threat of terrorism, the needle seems to be gradually shifting away from privacy concerns and toward government interests.

In certain cases, police can search “persons, houses, papers, and effects” without a warrant. Chief among them is an “exigent circumstance”—an emergency situation where delaying action in order to obtain a warrant is not feasible, including when someone’s life or safety is at stake, when a suspect is about to escape, or when evidence is about to be removed or destroyed. Police also don’t need a warrant to search a person or property when the search is related to a lawful arrest or if the suspected illegal items to be seized are in plain sight.

But citizens still have the ability to demand that their Fourth Amendment rights be upheld when their expectation of privacy is being violated—and to seek redress from the courts when in fact it has been.

Consider the Magas family. When the police showed up at their Maryland home one night during a birthday party to investigate allegations of underage drinking, the family had every right to refuse the cops’ demand for entry. The officers, who had no warrant, had already entered onto their property, peered into the backyard area, and spotted young people drinking from plastic cups. In that rear space, protected from street view, the family had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

But the cops didn’t see it that way.

The Magases’ hometown of Damascus, Maryland, rests in a bucolic corner of Montgomery County, about forty miles northwest of Washington. On the outskirts rise some large custom-built houses, well spaced across towering trees and clipped lawns, including the Magas family home, a three-story, 5,900-square-foot residence with three acres, a pool, and a five-car garage, set far back from Damascus Road.

George Magas, a long-established member of the community with a successful at-home CPA practice, moved there in 2002 with his wife, Cathy, and their four sons, star football players at high school in the mostly white, mostly upper-middle-class town of eleven thousand.

The close-knit family spent a lot of time together, and George and Cathy were active in the community, supporting several youth groups with time and money. George had coached the high school football, baseball, and basketball teams, and Cathy kept busy with the football team’s booster club and served as team mother.

Life was good. But that all changed on one Saturday evening, January 4, 2014.

It was a punishing winter night, with plummeting temperatures and snow on the ground from a recent storm. But that didn’t deter about forty-five people from attending their son Nicholas’s twenty-first birthday party. The younger guests gathered downstairs in the large finished basement, where cold beer in cases and a half keg awaited them, even though some were under twenty-one.

Upstairs, George, Cathy, and about five friends—including Tom Stack, a seasoned detective for the Montgomery County Police Department—were watching football and enjoying pizza delivered from the local Papa John’s. This being a small town, they knew the delivery guy; he’d gone to school with their kids, and his father was an acquaintance. Just before midnight, they brought a cake downstairs, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”

George and Cathy had no idea that, as they headed down to the basement, a text was being delivered to the Montgomery County Police Department’s Alcohol Initiatives Section:

Hey man, not sure if your working but if your not busy there I just delivered a pizza to a party at [xxxx] Damascus rd and saw some young looking people with beer.

Yes, the pizza guy turned in his own customers.

The police department forwarded the tip to Officer Jeremy Smalley and Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy John Durham, who were both working on the Alcohol Initiatives Section’s Holiday Task Force.

No one saw Smalley and Durham as they pulled up in an unmarked black van and parked next door at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church. They quietly crossed onto the Magases’ property and moved toward the rear of the house, where an outdoor stairwell leads to the basement. The police could hear the sounds of a party. Through binoculars, Durham spotted young people laughing and drinking from red plastic cups. One young man was urinating in the bushes. Based solely on those observations, Smalley and Durham determined there was probable cause to suspect underage drinking.

The persistent lawmen made their way past the detached garage to the rear corner of the house. There they saw another young man urinating who, to them, appeared to be under twenty-one.

Durham walked to the top of the stairwell and peered down, spotting three individuals at the bottom, “appearing to be underage with half a keg and all holding solo cups with Amber beverage,” his partner Smalley wrote in the police report.1 “And they’re taking a selfie.” Durham demanded ID and determined all three were under twenty-one. He seized their smartphone as evidence.

They called in backup from the Alcohol Initiatives Section to cordon off the property, lest anyone tried to flee.

What happened after that is deeply disputed.

The Magases’ version of events differs wildly from the police report. George said that he and his wife, Cathy, had gone back upstairs when they saw a flashlight streaming through the windows. George walked into the kitchen and spotted two uniformed officers peering through the window. He opened the door, stepped outside, and asked what they were doing.

“They said they had a suspicion of an underage drinking party here and were very adamant about smelling marijuana,” George recalled.2 “And I said, ‘Well, there’s no marijuana, I can’t smell any here. And I don’t think any underage drinking’s going on, either.’”

To George, the men seemed to be itching for a confrontation. “I felt like I was in a boxing ring, and I started getting a little scared because they were rocking back and forth and trying to egg me on,” he said.

George had no stomach for a fight with the cops. Instead, he offered to fetch his driver’s license to identify himself. Walking back into the kitchen, he saw Nicholas and told him to lock the door. “I really don’t trust them. I’m scared,” he said. He got the license and rejoined the cops waiting out front.

Copyright © 2019 by David Kirby

“Evidence of Harm,” (2005) about the potential link between mercury in vaccines and autism, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Best Book, and one of five finalists for the 2005 Helen Bernstein New York Public Library Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. The New York Times noted that, “Kirby does an admirable job of clarifying most of the scientific background [and] makes the unassailable point that American health agencies lagged in calculating the amount of mercury being injected into babies.” Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, called it “one of the most thoroughly researched accounts of the thimerosal controversy thus far. It’s accessible in its handling of medical topics and compelling in its recounting of the parents’ fight,” while Kirkus Reviews wrote that, “Kirby does a good job of explaining the scientific issues in an unresolved controversy.” Newsday, meanwhile, called it “A gripping investigation. Much like the 9/11 commission’s report, it is an alarming page-turner.”

“Animal Factory” (2010) about the hazardous impact of industrial animal production on human health, the environment, food safety, animal welfare, rural communities and more. NPR named it one of the “Books We Like,” saying that, “Kirby combines the narrative urgency of The Jungle with the investigative reporting of Fast Food Nation. He has the potential to change the collective American mind about contemporary food issues.” Publishers Weekly called it “An eye-opening account of an escalating problem…Kirby delves deep to uncover the abysmal conditions of America’s food and produce industry.” Booklist said in a starred review that, “Thanks to Kirby’s extraordinary journalism, we have the most relatable, irrefutable, and unforgettable testimony yet to the hazards of industrial animal farming,” while the San Francisco Book Review commented that, “The writing is brilliant, the people profiled are inspirational in their activism, and the topic is one that so many people remain blissfully ignorant of.”

Death At SeaWorld, (2012) about the history of keeping killer whales in captivity, and why this archaic form of entertainment is not only devastating for these magnificent animals, but also poses a deadly threat to trainers who work with them at marine amusement parks like SeaWorld. The Wall Street Journal said, “Kirby makes a passionate case for captivity [and] tells the story like a thriller. His argument is, for the most part, fair and persuasive,” while The New York Times asked, “Should some of the most social, intelligent and charismatic animals on the planet be kept in captivity?” adding that, “The issue has been raised with new intensity in Death at SeaWorld.” Booklist, in a Starred Review, deemed the work “A gripping inspection… Hard to put down,” and New Scientist called it “A chilling depiction… Kirby lays out a compelling scientific argument against killer whale captivity.” Meanwhile, the San Francisco Book Review, in a Five Star review, said the book was, “Brilliantly and intensively researched and conveyed with clarity and thoughtfulness, Kirby’s work of high-quality non-fiction busts the whale debate wide open… Reads like a thriller and horrifies like Hannibal Lector.”

THE WINTER SISTERS by Tim Westover is a book that will stay with you long after the final page

Title: THE WINTER SISTERS

Author: TIM WESTOVER

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 322 PAGES

Publisher: QW PUBLISHERS

The Winter Sisters: A Novel

Received From: NETGALLEY
https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/172559

Release Date: AUGUST 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9849748-9-4

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Folklore, medicine, witches, and superstition in the Georgia mountains.

Dr. Waycross knows bleeding and blistering, the best scientific medicine of 1822. He arrives in the Georgia mountains to bring his modern methods to the superstitious masses. But the local healers, the Winter sisters, claim to treat yellow fever, consumption, and the hell-roarin’ trots just as well as he can. Some folks call the sisters “Herb Women;” some call them “Witches.” Waycross calls them “Quacks.”

But when the threat of rabies—incurable and fatal—comes to town, Dr. Waycross and the Winter sisters must combine their science and superstition in a desperate search for a remedy.

Can they find a miracle cure, or has the age of miracles passed?

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ALL AUTHOR PROCEEDS FROM THIS NOVEL ARE BEING DONATED TO CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA – CHILD LIFE DEPARTMENT
Over $10,000 donated since August 9, 2019!
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MY REVIEW:

1811 in the mountains of northern Georgia, three sisters stand upon a bare mountain plateau. These women are the Winter sisters. They are using wax to try to determine their futures.

Ten years later, the Winter sisters are no longer living in the village. The new Preacher has succeeded in turning some of the townspeople against them, successfully running them out of town.

The Winter sisters are sometimes called healers and sometimes called witches, it depends on the person who is speaking, and also who might be listening.

Art by SUSAN FARRELL

The sisters might be young, but they know herbal remedies for most ailments and have ministered to the residents of their small frontier town for years.

Art by Susan Farrell

When the town recruits a doctor from the city, he arrives ready to educate these backwater hicks as to how science and the latest techniques of medicine will cure all their ills.

However, when he arrives and keeps hearing about the Winter sisters and their supposed cures, he sets out to discredit them.

What happens next surprises the doctor, the Winter sisters and everyone reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that you are unable to predict what will happen at any given moment in this story. It kept me guessing, which is rare.

National Park Service Photo

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THE WINTER SISTERS is a fabulous book with terrific characters and a story that will stay with you long after the final page.

The descriptions both of people’s lives and of the sceney and setting are so vivid that readers can picture tem so clearly it is almost as if you create a movie in your head as to how everything and everyone looks.

Photo by John Rice Irwin, Sept. 1979

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I rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
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QUOTE:

“I never treat hopeless cases. The age of miracles is past.”
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TO ORDER SIGNED COPIES OF THIS TERRIFIC BOOK, CLICK HERE.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tim Westover, a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Georgia, lives in suburban Atlanta. Born in the north, educated in England, and frequent visitor to Russia, he found his home in the North Georgia mountains.

Russell Farm Historic Site –
Mountain Rest, SC

The foundations of a nameless old house on the backstreets of Lawrenceville

In addition to writing, Westover enjoys programming, playing the clawhammer banjo, and raising his three-year-old daughter to be a modern American eccentric.

Tim playing the PANjo

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.timwestover.com/

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THE FAMILIAR DARK by the mega-talented AMY ENGEL will be released in March 2020. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy and it is AMAZING. Read on to find out more

Title: THE FAMILIAR DARK

Author: AMY ENGEL

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP DUTTON

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 21, 2020

ISBN: 9781524745950

Price: $26.00 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family—women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances—as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.

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MY REVIEW:

THE FAMILIAR DARK takes place in one of the poorest portions of the Missouri Ozarks.

The story begins with the death of two 12-year-old girls – Best Friends – Izzy and Junie.

Eve Taggert is a single mother. She has loved her daughter Junie with an intensity that surprised Eve and which began when Junie drew her first tiny breath. On that day, Eve’s once wild life was flipped onto it’s head. She knew that she had to be a better mother to Junie than her mother had been to her and her brother Cal (short for Caleb). And ever since that day Eve had showered Junie with love and worked hard to provide for their tiny, two-person household.

But, when Eve learns that Junie and her best friend Izzy had been brutally murdered, she begins to fall apart. After all, what was the point of changing her life and becoming a contributing member of society of her daughter if it led to the death of her only child?

With dogged determination and a fierce need to identify the killer, Eve takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened.

As Eve begins to search for answers in her daughter’s slaying, old hurts, secrets and betrayals she had thought long buried are brought to light.

In fact, the twists in this tale are so numerous that readers will have a difficult time figuring out who the killer(s) is/are. As soon as you think you have a handle on all the players, you need to think again.

Author AMY ENGEL has captured perfectly the depth of a mother’s love and protective instincts for her child. She has portrayed the anger and resentment of a mother towards the perpetrator of the murder to perfection.

Although this novel is a mystery, a thriller, a whodunit, it is unlike any other thriller readers have encountered previously. The story focuses on relationships – on family ties.

THE FAMILIAR DARK is also a story about poverty and the fact that when you are poor, your life choices are limited. When you are working hard every day just to put food on the table and a roof over your head, there is little energy left at the end of the day.

Once her child was taken from her in the most violent and traumatic way possible, Eve is devastated. Despite the fact that her brother, Cal, is a cop, Eve decides to launch her own investigation.

As Eve dogs deeper and deeper into the criminal underbelly of her small town, she begins to discover that there are many secrets there and that some people will do anything to ensure those secrets are never revealed.

This story roars along like a high-speed freight train and readers will need to hang on for the ride of their lives.

I rate THE FAMILIAR DARK as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo Credit: Trish Brown Photography

Amy Engel is the author of THE BOOK OF IVY young adult series.

A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family.

Photo Credit: Trish Brown Photography

THE ROANOKE GIRLS was her first novel for adults. She also authored THE IVY SERIES of Young Adult books.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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http://amyengel.net/

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THE QUEST by Lara Kellett-Smith is Young Adult Fantasy Fiction at it’s Very Best

Title: THE QUEST

Series: FIRST SNOW – BOOK ONE

Author: LARA KELLETT-SMITH

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 392 PAGES

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 30, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Hashtag tricked.

Hashtag coerced.

Hashtag there are no hashtags here…wherever here is.

Seventeen-year-old Jemma Alder is easy prey for her classmate. Tricked into crossing to another world and coerced into going on a dangerous Quest, Jemma must quickly learn how to survive in an 18th-century-like land against an unknown enemy. By her side is Aaron Norling…but tribal laws, ancient prejudices, and family secrets soon threaten their fragile love.

Suitable for ages 13+

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MY REVIEW:

THE QUEST is a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC young adult novel and the beginning of what promises to be an awesome new series.

The official description of this book just does not do it justice. Although the beginning takes place in the real world, it is a small part of the overall tale.

With exquisite prose, an epic journey, adventure, a battle between good and evil, a budding romance, magic, shapeshifters, and a beautifully described new world, this book is not to be missed.

What reader hasn’t dreamed of being swept up, away from their everyday lives and into the adventure of a lifetime? One of the reasons the fantasy genre is so popular is our desire to live vicariously through the characters in a book. THE QUEST embodies this desire perfectly.

QUEST begins in present day Yorkshire, England, but soon moves to a parallel world with almost nothing in common with the modern world. At Jemma’s “home” in England, it is winter, however, when she arrives in the strange, new land of Terran, she realizes the seasons have changed in an instant. It is now spring (or maybe summer – at first she is unsure.) The landscape is completely different as well. Gone are the fields of Yorkshire. In their place, is a lush valley with mountains in the distance.

Jemma is a character that most teens (as well as most adults) can relate to.

Jemma somehow fits in beautifully with Aaron Norling’s family, and they take her into their home, and eventually, into their hearts. The clan of which Aaron and his family are part of are the Loukyn Clan – shapeshifters who turn into wolves. Jemma does not discover their magic for some time, but once she is finally able to wrap her mind around the fact that shapeshifters are real, and that they are a reality in Terran, she learns more and more about her adoptive land and it’s inhabitants.

She discovers that there are many different clans and that each clan shapeshifts into a unique animal. There is a Bear clan, an Eagle clan, a horse clan, etc. Jemma soon learns that racism and classism are rampant in Terran and that exile is the punishment for falling in love and mating with a member of a different clan. This bothers her immensely and rightly so.

However, trying to change their culture is secondary to the fact that she is to take part in a dangerous quest to retrieve a special plant from high up on a glacier.

THE QUEST is the story of their travels and all the obstacles that the six Questers must overcome. To make their journey even more difficult, it seems that someone, or something, is doing its best to ensure the failure of their task even if that means they all must die.

The story moves at a pulse-pounding rate and readers cannot stop themselves from becoming engrossed in the story. In fact, this book is UN-PUT-DOWNABLE!!!

Add in the fact that Jemma and Aaron are drawn to each other by an inescapable attraction and a mutual respect that causes their feelings of friendship and admiration to turn into so much more. But, this budding romance faces challenges at every turn, some of which might be impossible to overcome.

I hope I have intrigued potential readers to pick up a copy of this Indie authored Young Adult Fantasy novel. It will not disappoint you. This author has a true gift for characterization, world building as well as an intuitive sense for pacing.

I rate THE QUEST as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am eagerly awaiting the second and third books in this series and I now a dedicated Lara Kellett-Smith fan.
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****Thank you very much to Author Lara Kellett-Smith for providing me with a free copy of this amazing, new, Young Adult Fiction novel.****

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I’m Lara…teacher, avid reader, and author of books for children and young adults. My stories have an adventurous element, and I’m a huge romantic so you’ll find plenty of this in my YA work.

I’m from the island of Guernsey, Channel Islands (Uh, huh…as in ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ by Shaffer and Barrows), but also spent my childhood on the tiny Scottish island of Tanera Mhor (no roads or shops, and we had to go to school by boat), and the Scottish Highlands of Glencoe (the region where they filmed Harry Potter…and Braveheart, Rob Roy, The Highlander, and The Loch series, to name a few. Popular scenery!).

It was an adventurous upbringing with lots of freedom, spent at the beach, on boats, and in the forests and mountains (with my dog, Heidi). My love of outdoor swimming and skiing were developed from an early age; I learned to swim in a rockpool, and to ski on the rugged slopes of White Corries, Glencoe. I confess, though, that having lived in a Swiss ski resort for twenty years, I’m a bit spoilt now for long, wide pristine slopes and lots of cafes!

I spent three months of my gap year in remote parts of northern Australia, with Operation Raleigh and continued my travels with a year’s university exchange to SUNY Plattsburgh, USA – then taught in primary/elementary school in Aviemore, Scotland, and Prague, Czech Republic. I’ve been settled, as a teacher, in Switzerland for twenty years.

Fun fact: My home base for twenty-five years was Glencoe and I now live in the Swiss canton of Vaud. The father of Ian Fleming’s character, James Bond, was from Glencoe, and Bond’s mother was from the Swiss Canton of Vaud!

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.larakellettsmith.com

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN:

This entire series stemmed from a single quote by J.B. Priestley, that I spotted in a magazine…however, I’m still awaiting updated permission to use it, so you’ll have to try and figure it out for yourself!

But here’s a clue: I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and always wanted to write a two-world fantasy story. This quote sparked an idea, then another, then another, until I had characters and countries, and worlds.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS:

THE EARTHENS:

Jemma Alder-Norling: (17) Orphaned at thirteen and raised by her stepfather.

Lord Robert Clayworth: Jemma’s stepfather.

Captain James Cook: An earthen, who sailed as a cabin boy with Captain James Cook.

Grace: Jemma’s feisty best friend, currently dating Ben. Her mum is a paramedic.

Ben: Jemma’s friend and recently Grace’s boyfriend.

Yash: Jemma, Grace and Ben’s friend.

Octavia: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Miranda: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Florence: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Charles: Captain of the football (soccer) team. Veronika’s boyfriend.

Henry: Friend of Charles.

THE LOST VALLEY LOUKYN CLAN:

Isaac Norling (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Amos Isaac Norling: (21) betrothed to childhood sweetheart, Bronwen Allan.

Aaron Finlay Norling: (17) First met Jemma on Earth at Gunnar High. Leader of the questers.

Olaf Reistad (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Mary Reistad (mother): Known for her gentle demeanour and homemaking skills.

Yari Reistad: (17) Twin brother to Rose. One of the six questers.

Rose Reistad: (17) Twin sister to Yari. Whereabouts unknown.

Poppy Reistad: (13) Feisty, adventurous identical twin sister to Daisy.

Daisy Reistad: (13) Creative, thoughtful identical twin sister to Poppy.

Bryn Allan (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Clara Killin-Allan (mother): A ‘tough cookie’ responsible for the farm animals.

Bronwen Allan: (20) Betrothed to Amos Norling.

Bree Allan: (17) One of the six questers. Skilled with a bow and arrow.

Bess Allan: (10) Adores dressing in frilly, girly clothes.

Shaun Allan: (2 ½ )

Edwyn Killin: Clara Allan’s father.

Nora Killin: Clara Allan’s mother.

Elgan Killin: Edwyn’s brother. Shared his cabin with James Cook.

Anders Killin: Cousin to Edwyn and Elgan. Married to Dena.

Dena Killin: Wife to Anders.

(The Killins are guardians of the warning beacon at Killin’s Post)

Hendrik Karloff (father): Loukyn Clan Chief and voted as next Righnar of Alligand.

Gwyn Karloff (mother)

Landon Karloff: (19)

Veronika Karloff: (17) Studying on Earth, she tricked Jemma into using the ring and crossing to Terran in her stead.

Felix Jensen: (father) Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Oskar Jensen: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Wanda. Has younger triplet brothers.

Doctor Falk: Local doctor.

Wanda Falk: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Oskar.

Aldora Judd: Like a grandmother to Aaron and true mate/girlfriend of Captain James Cook.

Konselor Enid: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Kaisa: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Jonah: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Joseph: Farmer and neighbour to the Reistads/Allans.

Carrig: (18) Landon’s friend. Demi-kyn whose wolf is dominant. Mother is Merkyn.

Garth: (19) Landon’s friend.

Rhys Evans (father): An excomunicated loukyn from the Fern Valley Clan. Lives in the Ukyent.

Alice Evans (mother / wife): A domaren from Novitalia

Reanna Evans: (16)

Deri Evans: (15) Demi-kyn, wolf shifter.

Idelle Evans: (14)

THE AIKYN TRIBE:

Kirill Orel: (father) Elder in the Aikyn Tribe.

Darina Orel: (mother)

Yerik Orel: (18) Befriended Aaron when he lived up north during his ‘Finding’.

Kristina Alexeev: (18)

THE WHYTIE TRIBE

THE EQUOSKYN TRIBE

Nikolas Duke: A horse shifter, lawyer and friend to the Yenti chieftains.

THE YENTI:

Prifar Vandar : Ourskyn – Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe. Twin brother to Bard, chief of an Ourskyn clan. Exiled from his clan when he married Emmeline.

Primor Emmeline: (Omnishifter) Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe.

Liv: (24) ourskyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Fergal: (19) omnishifter – son of the chieftains. Bonded to Aaron.

Valda: (18) lynxkyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Halvard: ourskyn – Chief of the Yenti guard.

Hadwin (Serpentine): Member of the guard. Penelope’s father.

Helga (Demi-kyn, wolf/skallert parents): Penelope’s mother.

Penelope (Demi-kyn, skallert): Daughter of Helga and Hadwin

Only two days until the release of THE GRACE YEAR by KIM LIGGETT – One of the best books of 2019 and one you do not want to miss

Title: THE GRACE YEAR

Author: KIM LIGGETT

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, FEMINIST FICTION

Length: 416 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S PRESSWEDNESDAY BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 8, 2019

ISBN: 9781250145444

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

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ELIZABETH BANKS TO DIRECT AND PRODUCE THE GRACE YEAR FOR UNIVERSAL PICTURES.

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MY REVIEW:

I just finished reading Kim Liggett’s upcoming novel THE GRACE YEAR which releases in only two days and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time.

A mixture of several styles of books including Dystopian fiction, horror, speculative fiction, literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, dramas and feminist fiction, this book is all-around phenomenal. Reminiscent of a mixture of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies and Gathering Blue.

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READ THE KIRKUS REVIEW OF THE GRACE YEAR BY CLICKING HERE!!!
***

Magic, lies, deception, discrimination, madness, despair and the tiniest flutterings of rebellion abound in this exceptional work of Speculative fiction perfect for our current generation of young women.

Set in a future world where women are the possessions of men. At birth, their feet are branded with the sigil of their fathers. They remain in his possession until the day when a man gives them a veil, signifying the transfer of ownership from father to their betrothed and eventual husband. The women have no choice. They cannot say no. If there are more women than men, the extra women are sent to work in the necessary and difficult menial labor of ensuring the survival of the entire colony.

Sounds horrific already, right? Well, as usually occurs in life, it gets worse. This is due to the ritual of The Grace Year. Every year, the girls who turn sixteen years old are sent out into the wild for a full year. Not all of those who leave the colony will return. The dangers are numerous and since speaking of The Grace Year is forbidden, the girls know almost nothing of the situations they are about to encounter.

Sixteen year old Tierney James is not like the rest of the girls her age who titter and smile coyly at the village’s young men in hopes of receiving a veil from one of them. Tierney has zero desire to be a wife. As she sees it, “There’s no freedom in comfort. They’re padded shackles, to be sure, but shackles nonetheless.”

Tierney dreams of a better life. A better world. One in which the women are free to speak their minds. She hopes for the women to come together and to work together to make everyone’s lives better. Unfortunately, this is exceedingly unlikely.

What the girls experience during their Grace Year changes each and every one of them in different ways, and author Kim Liggett has done a fabulous job of getting into the minds of her characters. I literally could not put this book down. At 416 pages, it should have taken at least a few days to read, but I couldn’t wait that long and finished the book within eighteen hours. Eighteen hours where I chose to forgo sleep and I do not regret a single second. My only complaint is that I wish the next book in the series was available already. If so, I would willingly give up sleep once more just to discover what happens next.

I believe this book will be on everyone’s reading list and that Bestseller status will be bestowed upon it very quickly. Books are rated on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. However, this book is deserving of more than just five stars. In fact, I am bestowing upon it my highest, most coveted rating: I rate THE GRACE YEAR as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you very much to #NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

At sixteen, Kim Liggett left her rural midwestern town for New York City to pursue a career in music. Along with lending her voice to hundreds of studio recordings, she was a backup singer for some of the biggest rock bands in the 80’s.

Kim spends her free time studying the tarot and scouring Manhattan for vials of rare perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.kimliggett.com

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HANDS UP by Stephen Clark has been released and is a story that seems ripped from the headlines. You NEED to check out this book

Title: HANDS UP

Author: STEPHEN CLARK

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 290 PAGES

Publisher: WiDō PUBLISHING

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947966-20-8

Rating: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

DESCRIPTION:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a timely novel because of the very real increase in the number of police shootings of unarmed, young black men in the United States.

HANDS UP begins with Tyrell Wakefield being shot by rookie police officer Ryan Quinn. According to the police, the young man had punched Ryan’s older partner and was attempting to grab his gun.

However, Tyrell’s sister, Jade, finds that story very unlikely, as does her mother. So, Jade is determined to find out what really happened.

When Jade’s maternal Aunt turns Tyrell’s death into a #BlackLivesMatter rallying cry, the press get ahold of the story and it becomes bigger than Jade ever expected. It also brings an unexpected person back into the lives of Jade and the rest of her family and he is definitely NOT welcome.

Meanwhile, Ryan Quinn is horrified with what he has done. He never wanted to shoot anyone and he has never thought of himself as the racist monster he is being portrayed as. In fact, his police officer father was killed in the line of duty when Ryan was young, so he is accutely aware of the pain caused by losing a loved one to gun violence. Now, Ryan has a decision to make. Should he be loyal to the police and his partner? Or should he follow his heart and his conscience?

I enjoyed this book even more than I had anticipated. I had some idea of how the tale would unfold, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is not a predictable read and author Stephen Clark has created characters of depth and complexity.

In addition to the obvious issue of police shootings, several other social issues are also part of this story. In my opinion, this makes the story seem even more realistic. Police shootings do not happen in a vacuum and there are almost always several factors that contribute to the tragedy.
In DON’T SHOOT, racism by the police is not the only problem. The area in which the shooting takes place is poverty-stricken due to lack of education and employment opportunities, gang violence, a lack of social programs and much more.

On top of the above problems, this story also talks about homelessness, single parenting, divorce, abandonment, addiction, cutting, and even suicide. The author does a fabulous job of describing these issues and how each of them has affected the lives of the characters, and how a single issue can affect different individuals in different ways.

With non-stop action, current events, exquisitely complicated characters and a twisting plot, HANDS UP is a fantastic and must read, newly released novel.

This IS most definitely a book worthy of being on your “To Read” list. In fact, I will not be surprised when HANDS UP becomes an award-winning novel.

I rate this book as 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization.

Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.

He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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