Blog Archives

Keeper of Slaves

Keeper of Slaves: Book Two of Antebellum Struggles by [Erman, Dickie]

Collette should be one of the happiest women around. As the wife of a wealthy plantation owner, she has everything she could possibly want and lives in the home of her dreams. Her husband, however, makes living her best life impossible. As he has taken up with Amana, one of their slaves, Collette’s life has taken quite a tragic and sad turn. When Amana finds herself in just the right place at the ideal moment to save Collette’s life, both women begin to realize there is much more to their relationship than either of them could have ever imagined.

Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, traces the drama surrounding Trent and Collette Winters and the battle to survive via the Underground Railroad. Erman skillfully crafts a cast of characters who are deeply involved in making the Underground Railroad successful. The author appeals successfully to readers’ emotions and describes incredibly intense scenes of fearful and anxious moments of planning as the book’s main characters attempt to do what feels like the impossible given the time period and the extreme circumstances of their lives.

Even though Erman includes a brief summary of events from Book 1 at the outset, I feel there are several key elements I was missing as I read. Quite a bit of time was spent trying to visualize situations and subplots. There is a history between this entire cast of characters that is begging to be read.

I am beyond intrigued by the “ghost ship.” I found it to be a fantastic addition to the plot and was able to visualize each and every aspect of the ship and its lack of life, the missing supplies, and the eerie and overwhelming silence. Though it sounds a bit out of place in a story of this genre, it actually works quite well.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the concern I have over the dialect. While the bulk of the dialogue feels quite authentic, there are a few things I found distracting as I read. Accents and turns of phrase felt accurate throughout the book for the most part, but a few terms like “machismo” and “space aliens” struck me as odd and felt out of place for the book’s antebellum setting. Periodically, the reader is given the impression that the third person narrator is, indeed, part of the story. While this works in some cases, it doesn’t feel effective here. I was especially confused when, in the narration, the alligator that attacks Collette is referred to as a “gata.” The sudden switching on and off of the more personal narration is a bit difficult to reconcile with the rest of the book.

I am giving Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, 4 out of 5 stars. Fans of historical fiction who desire a bit of romance in their plots will enjoy Erman’s work. I highly recommend Keeper of the Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2 to those who are particularly attracted to Civil War stories with generous amounts of character interaction and authentic dialogue.

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07NN5ZF8X

Buy Now From Amazon.com

AND BE FREE

And Be Free offers a fresh insight into American history from the perspective of POCs (Person of colour). Barry Roy Nager examines the ways in which history has often overlooked the experiences of POCs and how their contributions to significant events are often minimized and treated as an afterthought. Nager takes this opportunity to give a comprehensive history of the experience of POCs in America and to give individuals a voice when, for so long, their stories have gone unheard.

Nager creates a timeline of American history from the perspective of POCs giving an overview of the experiences lived. The book covers various sections of American history giving instances of various events and how they effected the lives of POCs. The book covers for example the role of Abraham Lincoln, Brown v. Board of education, and the role of black soldiers in the Vietnam war. The book brings the reader right up to the present day and looks ahead to the future of civil rights and the lives of POCs in the modern day.

One particularly notable point is that the book reflects on the brutality of the slave trade and, unlike most accounts, it successfully humanizes the numbers. Often the personal histories of these events are reduced to a numeric digit which means the raw experience is often lost. However, Nager successfully depicts the reality for these individuals in graphic detail and pays respect to the people that were treated in such horrendous ways.
Nager gives the reader a haunting insight and delves into the fake assertions made about various races. These assertions, that were based on unscientific principles, were a factor that lead to the divisions created within society. The ways in which people were treated and the justifications for such treatment appear Orwellian; Nager does not hold back and confronts the reader with the harsh reality.

The book looks at the broad history of POCs in America, using the past as a warning for the future and investigating contemporary problems that may be a result of the past. I give this book a five out of five as it gives an overview of the challenges faced, the progress made, and the hopes, and sadly, fears for the future. I think that this book is essential for anyone looking to begin their journey into the history of POCs in America and American history as a whole. More importantly the book emphasizes that the histories are united insofar as history does not occur in a vacuum.

Pages: 160 | ISBN: 1450089615

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Deception: The Ultimate Betrayal

Deception: The Ultimate Betrayal by [White, Jackie]

Jackie White’s Deception is built around Asia McKay, a beautiful, high flying career woman who is thrown into a whirlwind of hurt, betrayal, infidelity, confusion and depression. Her marriage comes to an abrupt end when she discovers that her husband, David, has been having an affair with her friend, Gina, an affair that leads to pregnancy producing twins- Reign and Raven in the long run. Asia and David have to go their separate ways. Moving on with her life, Asia meets a good-looking, randy medical doctor, Zaire, who follows her to Aruba and sneaks into her hotel room, subjecting her to sexual assault that results in pregnancy. On discovering that she is pregnant from Zaire, she becomes downcast and comes up with the idea of falsifying a DNA test in favor of David in order to keep Zaire far away from her and her child.

Deception is a compelling novel full of intrigue, irony and suspense that depicts the grim realities of life. The book is not larger than life, I found most of the characters believable to a heart breaking extent. The book’s laudable strength consists in its ability to hold its readers sway from start to finish, paying critical attention to details when describing events, places and people with felicitous phrasing. The omnipresent narrator has a sharp eye for details.

While I found the book to be highly entertaining and thrilling there was humor injected at just the right moments to bring a bit of levity to an otherwise suspenseful novel; a moment to relax your shoulders before the next twist. The novel employs the intense use of soliloquies with some characters like Asia, Gina and Zarie thinking aloud in their respective distressing and lonely moments. Conversations leading to overwhelming emotional outbursts are recurrent in the novel. As stated earlier, the author’s literary mastery shines through, describing turns of intricate events with sheer creativity, maturity and ingenuity.

The novel explores so many provocative themes in a way that is engaging yet understandable. Themes like betrayal, deception, infidelity, lust and love can be found in any one of our lives, but how Asia deals with these emotional obstacles is what kept me turning pages.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B0792LCPRZ

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Unusual Genealogy

Anita Bunkley Author Interview

Anita Bunkley Author Interview

The Twisted Crown is a fascinating story about a free black woman from the North searching for her mother in the post-Civil War South. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?

My father’s family is from Moncks Corner, SC, and we still own property there. I was born in Ohio and grew up in the North. I have always been fascinated by stories about our land in Moncks Corner, called Bryan Tract, and how it was acquired, as well as our family’s unusual genealogy. My great-grandfather was a white man from Iowa, who went to South Carolina during Reconstruction, and eventually became a wealthy state senator. I have always felt that period in American history was not well documented from the female, Afro-centric point of view. So, I decided to focus on that time period. Once I began to acquire primary source documents that provided details of my great-grandfather’s life, I wanted to pen the novel from the point of view of a woman from the North who travels into the South during Reconstruction.

This is an entertaining novel that is high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this book?

Romance: My family’s mixed race background demonstrates the crossing of racial lines at that time, as is really evident throughout history. I wanted to present this aspect of society through characters who could see past the racial, cultural, and societal barriers that existed during this time period. Political: I wanted to better define what Reconstruction actually was. It was not rebuilding bridges and constructing new buildings, but an effort to establish a solid political structure and an economic base to replace the defeated Confederate government. Societal: My goal was to showcase the work of the Freedman’s Bureau and underscore its importance in helping freed slaves establish new lives in freedom after the Civil War.

Eva is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a young black woman during this tumultuous time in history?

As a novelist of historical fiction, I have always focused on examining a period in history through the eyes of an African-American woman. My own family experiences, coupled with years of researching the role of black women throughout pivotal periods in history helped me shape Eva.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

Writing historical fiction takes time, detailed research, and inspiration. I always spend time traveling to the geographic locations that I plan to use in my books I’m mulling time periods, traveling, and pulling my next story together without any release date in mind.

Author Links: WebsiteFacebookLinkedin

The Twisted Crown by [Richmond Bunkley, Anita]

The Twisted Crown takes readers from the bustling streets of Boston at the height of the Abolitionist movement to the war-ravaged landscape of Reconstruction-era South Carolina.

In 1867, Eva Phillips, who was born a slave yet lived in freedom, travels across the chaotic landscape of South Carolina in search of the mother who gave her away. During her journey, she is befriended by a black political activist promoting the rights of the newly freed slaves, a wealthy northern Carpetbagger, and a gutsy lady gambler who teaches Eva how to survive in the tumultuous Post-war environment.

When the spirited young widow’s quest draws her into a dangerous web of theft, lies, and murder, she becomes the target of a long-awaited confrontation that forces her into a fight for her life.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Antebellum Struggles

Antebellum Struggles is told through the eyes of multiple characters whose lives intertwine as a result of slavery in the deep south. We see their varying opinions, experiences and their individual backgrounds that influence their perceptions of the world at present.

Young Amana, from Martinique, a Caribbean island, was born into slavery and was later shipped to a plantation in Louisiana. Colonel Winters, the plantation owner, struggles in his relationship to his wife, Collette, and seeks to fulfill his lust in an affair. Simultaneously, a doctor takes advantage of being admitted to Colonel Winters’ home under dire circumstances.

Throughout the story good intentions are tested and morals are in constant conflict. There is love against lust, an abolitionist receiving money from a slave owner, and deception for personal gain throughout. The book thus serves as an incredibly graphic detailing of society at a time when power and violence ruled by the crack of a whip.

The author, Dickie Erman, is successful at portraying depth to the actions of a distinct variety of characters. The stylistic choices made by the author allows the reader to glimpse a character’s true intentions. For example, the doctor who tries to turn every situation to his advantage despite it being to the detriment of others; where the reader sees the doctor’s thoughts as he tries to manipulate the Colonel.

Dickie Erman delves into the role of power and hierarchy as a means of controlling others, exploring how different characters use their stature to get what they want. Power and stature play large roles in the story, especially in the carrying out of violence. The array of infringements upon victims in the book are often viewed and justified by the characters causing violence or imposing their power. The reader thus watches the mental gymnastics that the perpetrators use with anguish.

Moreover, with such violence presented in the book it is worth noting that the descriptions are gut-churningly graphic, though appropriate in their realism. Due to the nature of the topic, it is difficult to read, however this is not a negative. This author does not hold back on the details of the conditions on a slave ship, nor haphazard medical procedures. The word choice is bold when referring to people as property and mere flesh, as such it is harrowing to read. It is a disturbingly realistic display of slavery at that time.

For some readers who are not used to the style of narrative that Dickie Erman employs, the switching between character viewpoints may make the story difficult to follow. This is especially true for the flashbacks to various characters’ background stories. However, as the reader follows each account of a character’s experiences, the story never loses its natural flow. The technique is appropriately used in the portrayal of each of the characters’ very distinct viewpoints.

Antebellum Struggles is an engaging book that follows a variety of character arcs all intertwined by a plantation in the deep south. Dickie Erman masterfully switches view point and projects distinct character voices. The events of the novel draw the reader into a disturbingly realistic rendition of life in Louisiana at a time when segregation and slavery were common place. The author manages to disclose the gruesome details of what life was really like at such a difficult time.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B07DFQLL8Q

Buy Now From Amazon.com

 

Pad Pennywell

Pad Pennywell by [Horn, Patrick]

The Pennywells had sold their Alabama plantation and decided to move to Texas, bringing with them Pad Pennywell and his family. However, on the way to Texas, the group are confronted by bandits and Pad is recruited to their ‘clan’. Many years later, a young journalism graduate by the name of Louis Bankston, visits Pad Pennywell and inquires after these bandits. Thus, the story is relayed as a retelling of Pad’s life before and after the run in with bandits. Pad Pennywell is a story of the conflicting morals and struggles of working as a ‘clean-up’ man for bandits to keep oneself and one’s family alive.

As an elderly Pad Pennywell recounts his story to Louis Bankston; it immerses the reader in a similar way as if it were a relative talking about their past. As such the story has all of the natural tangents that someone telling a story face to face would take. Such as when Pad talks about falling in love with his wife, Ruby, or talking with the townspeople, or saying a prayer for the people he ‘cleans up’ after working with the bandits. The narrative course Patrick Horn, the author, has chosen gives the story a sincere quality as if it were being told to them on Pad’s quiet porch in Alabama, in person.

Using this technique of having the main character relay their story, means that all the details are incredibly graphic in their descriptions, especially when Pad talks about death or bodies. As the ‘clean up’ man, Pad has clearly suffered trauma, and this is illustrated in how he speaks of bodies and death. He describes the sound of the air escaping a lung after a bullet to the chest, and the stench of putrid, bloating bodies at the bottom of a well. This gives so much depth to Pad as a character as it is easy to see the stain that these events have left on his mind through how vividly he describes every aspect.

Unlike many novels, there is no omnipotent narrator. We only know what the protagonist knows at that time. However, as it is a retelling, the protagonist sometimes chooses to reflect more on certain aspects of the past or give the reader a snippet of what is to come, for instance describing John West, a bandit leader, as someone he would come to know very well. This leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next and how the protagonist came to know what he knows in the present. Simultaneously, this leaves the reader with as little knowledge of the events as he the protagonist himself had as the events themselves were unfolding. Consequently, this achieves a great level of empathy from the reader for the protagonist.

This book gives an intense representation of a character and their experience with conflicting morals. The author, Patrick Horn, gives a great amount of depth to the character of Pad Pennywell as we follow the story he tells us of his struggles from Alabama to Texas.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07G5JRDB7

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Twisted Crown

The Twisted Crown by [Richmond Bunkley, Anita]

The Twisted Crown​, the newest historical fiction novel by Anita Bunkley is a fascinating look into the post-Civil War South. Focused on the story of a free black woman from the North, Eva Phillips takes advantage of the abolition of slavery in the South to embark on a treacherous journey to South Carolina to try to find the mother who gave her a chance at freedom as a child. Along her way, readers meet a captivating cast of characters ranging from cunning professional gamblers to complex carpetbaggers to innocents turned corrupt by hardship. Eva has to navigate a part of the country decimated by the bitterest of fighting as it struggles to regain its footing. And like Eva, readers will never know if the character with the checkered past they just met will be someone who can be trusted or or who will surprise them with an unexpected betrayal.

Along the way she meets up with Chicago lawyer and profiteer Trent Hartwell who, against the recommendations of his new Charleston acquaintances, offers to help Eva in her quest. Although he came to the South to benefit from the financial opportunities blossoming in the wake of so many people’s misfortunes, he can’t quite understand the unwritten rules governing the South about the proper roles of white people and black people and why there should be any difference.

This book also sheds light on the important and dangerous work that took place during this time by black activists to promote equal participation in government for all races. This work made many who benefited from the pre-war social structure very angry and prone to violence, so the lobbying had to be done secretively.

While the story is solid and flows well, I thought that the characters and dialogue lacked some depth. This book kept me very engaged, however. The quick pace, many edge-of-your-seat situations, and several sultry moments kept me reading along without any lulls.

I also came away with a much clearer understanding of what life in the South was like after the Civil War for both whites and blacks. I didn’t know the depth of poverty freed slaves were faced with and this book provided a very interesting example of the creative and sometimes unfortunate ways that people used to survive and start a new life. Anita Bunkley is famous for writing stories that show what a famous period in history was like from the perspective of black women, and I really appreciated having the opportunity to experience this after so many other Reconstruction books (Gone With the Wind, That Bright Land, ect.) only focus on the white experience. This is important because, clearly, this was a period where the African-American experience is integral to understanding the situation appropriately.

I highly recommend joining Eva on her exciting voyage to the land of her birth and learning more about the United State’s most interesting periods of history in ​The Twisted Crown ​by Anita Bunkley.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B07G7GPX2F

Buy Now From Amazon.com

You’re A Survivor

Suzetta Perkins Author Interview

Suzetta Perkins Author Interview

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth follows a tangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. What was the inspiration behind this book?

As a suspense author, I’m always looking for stories that are different but timely. With two husbands and other family members, who were in the Army and Air Force, I had a birds-eye view of some of the goings on of the military. As well, I worked for both Boeing and Martin Marietta (which is now Lockheed Martin) working with spacecraft engineers and the Pershing missile system during the cold war. I was intrigued by the Oliver North story, which was borne out in my first novel, Behind the Veil.

I thought that Persenia’s character draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel. How were you able to capture the life of a military spouse?

That’s an easy question. I was a military spouse, and believe me I understood Persenia’s predicament well.

There is a vast emotional range in this book from jealousy, revenge, to anger. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

The major theme I wanted to convey was that life is complicated. We have are ups and downs. Marriage is work. However, when we’re thrown a sharp curve and no matter the obstacles that are thrown at you, you can come out victorious. You’re a survivor.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’ve since released Free to Love, which is a sequel to one of my earlier novels, Betrayed. What’s Love Got to Do With It, will be released in either November or December of this year. It’s the sequel to Silver Bullets, that looks at women over fifty, who’re trying to get their sexy back. I’m also working on the sequel to Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, as my readers, especially the book clubs that I’ve visited, have demanded. They want to know what will become of Persenia and her new love interest, Remy. Some speculate that she will stay with Reggie. For sure there will be some consequences for Reggie’s involvement with the General he was having an affair with, but will also see that Persenia will have to face some consequences of her own. However, while everyone will want to know what happens with Reggie and Persenia, ISIS remains a threat.

Author Links: TwitterFacebook | GoodReadsWebsite

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

The handsome and soon-to-be Brigadier General Reginald Charleston is in a romantic liaison with Major General Kaleah Neal, the sexy seductress, who seems to be all out capture Reggie for herself, never mind that Reggie has been married for the past eighteen years to Persenia Charleston, who’s been the model wife, giving her life totally to her husband and the military.

The inconvenient truth is that Reggie is playing with fire and is about to get burned. The President of the United States, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Reggie and other generals under the umbrella of the Pentagon are pursuing a worldwide enemy, ISIS. However, Reggie has missed the clues that the enemy might be right under his nose.

Things are put into perspective for Reggie when his next-door-neighbor, Major General Forbes, is gunned down…the second such killing of an Army general in days. Will Reggie be next?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, written by Suzetta Perkins is a book which draws the reader into an entangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. Military wife Persenia is married to Brigadier General Reggie, who’s been committing adultery for years, and she’s just about had enough of it. Fueled by a meeting with the woman she suspects to be his lover, she vows to divorce him and drag his name through the mud. But, this is all before he is called away on urgent business in the Middle East, where ISIS are increasing their presence.

Perkins narrates the story from a number of different viewpoints – mainly Persenia’s, but also from Reggie’s and Rasheed – a terrorist. The relationships are complicated and fiery, full of arguments and strife. Without the different narrators, it would be hard to keep up – but the variety allows a range of different perspectives. It doesn’t stop readers being on Persenia’s side though and feeling sorry for the women of the story, who are regularly messed around on by their husbands.

The book is an emotional one, powered by lots of strong feelings – thoughts of jealousy, revenge, and anger. But through this, we can see there had once been a lot of love in the ruined relationships, and can’t help but feel sad at the loss. Throughout, it’s easy to find yourself getting involved, which is a testament to how well the book is written. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a suggestion of real love forming, amidst a story full of unhealthy relationships and immoral behavior.

Alongside the emotional turmoil is the contrasting stoic, male-dominated world of the military. Persenia is known for her upstanding reputation as a wife and party planner and has been Reggie’s rock, supporting him whilst he has built his career. This draws a comparison to what occurs behind different types of closed doors – such as people’s homes and in classified military offices. To the people looking in, Persenia and Reggie’s relationship is perfect and strong, and the government officers are handling the issues in the Middle East. From the outside, it all seems to be in hand. The issues that face military wives are highlighted – the extensive adultery, emotional and physical abuse from dominant men who are used to getting their own way. Persenia’s character also draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel, as she is moved from place to place as her husband is posted all over the country and overseas for months at a time.

Perkins’ book is a story of intrigue – you really want to find out if the characters will reconcile and how they will react when all is revealed. It runs alongside a mysterious terrorist plot that adds pressure to the boiling relationships and forces the plot lines to meet and come to blows.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B073MC9ZN7

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Darkness in the Mirror

Ondie Reid, a schizophrenic who is finally living a normal, productive life with the help of medication, finds her world once again spiraling out of control when her daughter’s father, whom she is trying to win back, begins sleeping with her younger sister. Original.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: