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THOMAS JEFFERSON FAMILY SECRETS

Most people know Thomas Jefferson only as the third President of the United States of America. The name would mean nothing more to them than a fun fact heard in a tourist spot in other parts of the world. The truth is, Thomas Jefferson was a human being just as complicated and worthy of empathy as all of us. This is what author and Jefferson expert William G. Hyland Jr. sought and accomplished to convey in his book Thomas Jefferson: Family Secrets.

Written in prose that is accessible without sacrificing the scholarly gravity, this book would be ideal reading for any student of history. Not only does it shed light on this enigmatic figure’s life post-presidency, but it also inspires curiosity. This biography could be enjoyed by almost any reader who loves US history and wants to know more about their lives outside of their public deeds.

Each chapter covers a specific milestone of Jefferson’s twilight years with tidbits from personal letters, commentary from other scholars, and other references. This gives the biography an intimacy and depth no textbook can rival, giving Jefferson humanity that is easy to relate with. Because of that, the experience of reading this almost feels like reading a novel. Beyond the scandals and the history of slavery, you can’t help but empathize with him. However, before you write this off as a full-length fluff piece, it’s important to note that Hyland does not shy away from the less savory events of Jefferson’s storied life. Instead, he focuses on facts, not the modern emotions elicited from these facts.

Different readers will have varying opinions, and luckily Hyland Jr. understands that very well. As a result, the book doesn’t hammer us in the head with sugar-coated anecdotes in order to convert Jefferson’s detractors. Instead, it simply presents the facts and lets the reader decide on their own.

Thomas Jefferson: Family Secrets is a stimulating historical biography on the life of President Jefferson after he left office. History lovers that want to expand their knowledge will enjoy this unique look at his life.

Pages: 542 | ASIN : B09SD6ZD9B

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A Battle for Her Nation’s Freedom

Author Interview
Mary Rae Watry Mauch Author Interview

Wild Colts Make the Best Horses– The Intrepid Life of Abigail Adams is a biography on the former First Lady and her life before and after her husband’s role as President. Why was this an important book for you to write?

All my life, I have admired Abigail Adams’ accomplishments and have felt that the Adams family has been overlooked. Even in my college history courses, the only woman mentioned as a contributor to the American Revolution was the seamstress, Betsy Ross. My own life mirrors Abigail’s, therefore I easily identified with her and hoped to transfer this empathy to readers. She was one hundred years ahead of her time on many issues, such as the abolition of slavery and equal education for women. My hope is that students will become more interested in learning our history, that they encounter teachers who make it come alive, and that our history is presented fairly, including its strengths and weaknesses. At this divisive time in our nation, all citizens need to grasp and understand the initial ideals of this nation so that freedom will survive! Lastly, I wished to leave my five grandchildren a legacy that includes a love of history, their nation, and the written word.

When researching the life of Abigail Adams, what was one thing that surprised you from her life?

Abigail’s incredible loyalty and devotion to both John and the country she helped to birth. Abigail not only molded bullets in her kitchen, but she also produced saltpeter using urine and rainwater to be used as gunpowder. Despite being aware that both her femininity and fertility would be questioned, Abigail drove a modest horse and carriage to attend many sessions of Congress while serving as the Vice-President’s wife. Due to John’s ten-year absence serving as a delegate in Philadelphia and as a diplomat in France, Abigail independently managed their farm, supervised the homestead, created homespun clothing to support the boycott of English goods, and educated their four young children. Her knowledgeable and charismatic influence in the White House reinforced  John’s relationship with Congressmen and Justices. In an age when women’s opinions were neither elicited nor accepted, I was also surprised to learn about John’s pride in Abigail as his trusted advisor. 

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from Abigail Adam’s story?

An appreciation for the imminent dangers the Founding Fathers and Mothers, particularly Abigail Adams, faced during our Revolution, a crucial turning point in history.  Abigail was John’s confidante and most trusted advisor, who despite the criticism she received as First Lady, she continued to staunchly battle for the advancement of America and the survival of her nation’s freedom.

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

There are so many fascinating figures in history that deserve recognition. I am undecided about which of these I would passionately devote my time to researching and bringing to life.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Join an adventure walking in the shoes of Abigail Adams, wife of the second President of the United States, John Adams. Many stepping stones along this journey are first-hand accounts of Abigail’s correspondence before, during, and after the birth of her nation. Her forthright, knowledgeable insights reporting from the hotbed of Boston during the Revolution reveal the struggle of a young, loving family often separated as they balanced the needs of family vs. the needs of the emerging nation. You will encounter discourse from famous people and witness Abigail’s benevolence. She taught a young African-American boy to read, advocating for his inclusion in a traditional school. An early abolitionist, she also fought for women’s education and suffrage. Share her anguish as she buried four of her children. Realize Abigail’s political prowess as chief advisor to John. Abigail became the first of two valiant women to wear the labels of both wife and mother of an American president. This passionate portrayal of Abigail’s life highlights the hardships endured by the patriots to cement America’s values of liberty and justice for all.

Plant Folklore

Plant Folklore is a collection of 120 stories that take the reader on a stroll through wild plants found in the hills of Appalachia. Each of these stories covers ancient myths, truths, and the history behind the origin & name of the plant.

Three sections are included in the book, the first being Spring Wildflowers, which includes a list, illustrations, and information about various flower species, with the descriptions of the multiple uses they served to early settlers in America. In addition to identifying each plant by its Latin name, the common names of the plants are also listed to dispel any uncertainty. Additionally, along with enhancing the interest of nature lovers, the pictures of flora and fauna in the book help distinguish between the different species while also clarifying the descriptions.

The second section focuses specifically on the wildflowers found in summers, which will particularly interest plant enthusiasts. In this section, you can find suggestions on precautions to take when planting flowers at home. There are 41 flowers listed here, including one native to America and one brought over by immigrants. It also mentions interesting myths and medicinal uses and warns of the toxicity of plants historically used in America in the early days. In the final section of the book, which addresses shrubs, trees, and bushes more commonly seen, the author reveals the shocking poisonous plants endemic to most people’s diets.

Throughout his book, author Connie Taylor’s knowledge of wild species is woven with folktales, cautions, origins, and blooming periods of flora and fauna. While Plant Folklore covers the fascinating wild plant species found in hills and forests, it also underscores the necessity of protecting them down the road.

As written in the introduction, the author of the book does not intend this book to become a guide to plant medicine. Instead, the author has causally related his knowledge of numerous plants, many of which were part of his childhood memories. A significant focus of the book is on conveying, in an engaging manner, the role that plants played during the early days in America. In addition to explaining the various beneficial medicinal uses of the native species, traded off with modern synthetics, there is a subtle admonition for modern men to disregard most of the native species as non-beneficial weeds.

Plant Folklore is a fascinating book that spreads across several genres. It is perfect for nature enthusiasts and anyone curious about different plants and stories associated with them.

Pages: 240 | ASIN : B07H6538QQ

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Wild Colts Make the Best Horses

Wild Colts Make the Best Horses- The Intrepid Life of Abigail Adams by Mary Rae Watry is an epic biography of an accomplished woman of American history named Abigail Adams. The former First Lady lived in an era when women were considered second-class citizens. But she armored herself with so much grit and passion and defeated all odds with flying colors. First, as a counsel to her husband, President John Adams, and later as a guru to her son John Quincy Adams, Abigail established herself as a leading lady in American politics.

Author Watry puts together beautifully every little detail of Abigail’s life; every major event is presented in such a way that the reader never has a dull moment connecting the dots. Watry has done a thorough job of detailing Adams’s family history by providing actual conversations, letters, and photographs. As a reader, it is effortless to navigate through the writer’s words and get a sense of the early years of American independence. Watry does a great job compiling, writing, and presenting facts in a straightforward manner.

Wild Colts Make the Best Horses- The Intrepid Life of Abigail Adams is filled with extraordinary details of Abigail Adam’s life. The writer has done her justice by presenting the information in a way that feels honest and relatable. The author’s hard work is visible as you read and think about such a great historical figure. Readers will appreciate that this awe-inspiring biography keeps the chapters manageable. The chapters are short, making it more appealing to tackle in piecemeal reading sessions; as in a classroom setting. Don’t get fooled by the number of pages; you will be amazed at how fast they finish.

For readers who want to know more about the personality, character, and compassionate life of Abigail Adams in the era when women had no say to anything outside the kitchen and their family, this book will provide details often left out of the history books. Like they say, there is a woman behind every successful man, which is so true in Abigail Adams’s life.

Wild Colts Make the Best Horses- The Intrepid Life of Abigail Adams With will appeal to readers of women’s history, political history, and women’s biographies.

Pages: 698 | ASIN : B0932JXZNG

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Covert Activities

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?

After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.

The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?

I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.

 Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?

Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.

Where will book three in the series take readers?

Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.

Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.

It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.

Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.

But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.

Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.

Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.

A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.

Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.

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Defiance on Indian Creek

Defiance on Indian Creek4 Stars

Defiance on Indian Creek is a quiet, but enthralling read by Phyllis A. Still. We follow a smart, courageous thirteen-year-old girl, Mary on the frontier in West Virginia on the eve of the Revolutionary war. Her father comes home with news that disrupts Mary’s world; talk of loyalty to the unfair King and moving to far off Kentucky. The relationship with her father is stretched as she finds him mired in plots and implications of possibly being a traitor or even a spy. Mary is forced of her own loyalties to her father, family and country as the weeks go on until she is asked to make an impossible choice.

Overall, Still has clearly done her research in this fine YA novel. In the tradition of historical fiction before it, Defiance on Indian Creek takes a quiet frontier family and throws them in the forefront against an increasingly dangerous time. Reading these pages gave me the feeling I was actually there in the reeds of Indian Creek alongside Mary and her Papa. The maps included at the front of the book were helpful in understanding the setting and getting even more of a feel of what this era felt to those early colonists.

It isn’t often such a tale is spun on the frontier, but also invokes the greater happenings on the east coast. Mary is a fun protagonist to follow as the story progresses, because Still is able to give the reader the feeling of anguish from the girl and her struggles over choosing to place trust in her father and the lack thereof.

Being a YA novel the story itself is pretty straightforward and does not beat around the bush when it comes to finding out certain things. Mary herself seems to grasp things beyond her years, but her parents are not the usual inept adults that are so often present in YA novels. And being a young girl, who genuinely wants her father to be okay and her family to be safe, the reader can only root for her.

There are few books that I could remember for the relationships it creates between characters, but Still has managed to make the daughter-father relationship in this book a special one. Especially, since the tension between them is so palpable as the book goes on.

If there is any criticism for the book that can be offered it would be for something that is almost uncontrollable. It concerns the background conflict between the Colonies and the Crown. This is what gives historical fiction its flavor, but it does overshadow the very personal, family struggle between Mary and her father. This is the only real issue with the storyline, beyond this Defiance on Indian Creek will be a pleasurable read to any person who enjoys YA and a painstakingly researched historical fiction.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B01HBV3VOW

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The Most Fascinating People In History

James W. George Author Interview

James W. George Author Interview

My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.

We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.

I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.

The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?

I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.

Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.

As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.

I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?

I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.

I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?

Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.

Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.

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

Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.

Author Links: GoodReads

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”

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My Father’s Kingdom

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]5 Stars

A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.

The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.

Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.

On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.

The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.

Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8

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