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Tarnished Tiara: The Mysterious Death of an Ingenue

This is a coming of age tale that follows the life of Cece Turner, a girl from Baton Rouge, and her cousin, Liz, who lives in South Carolina, who grow up with a deep bond that continues into their adulthood. There is a particularly vivid story when Liz saves Cece from a snake which seems to solidify Cece’s sense of trust and love for her cousin. Cece, always in awe of Liz, a beauty pageant girl and talented woman all around, cannot believe the tragic arch of her cousin’s life and how things turned the way they do.

This story takes us through different phases and times of these girls’ lives. The author spares no details and builds strong characters available for the reader to form connections with throughout the story. We experience moments that guide and direct their lives. This is a fascinating and original story. The hoarding/animal hoarding aspect was particularly interesting to me. This type of story is so tragic because you see the innocence of a human being and then the arch of their life that does not end well. It is heartbreaking to see how Liz is impacted throughout her life by the way her mother treated her as a child. As a parent this part was particularly intriguing and disturbing to me. It is also interesting to see Cece’s life progress and grow old with her. This is certainly an ambitious story, but I did not feel bogged down with details.

The legal issues around the death of Liz was very interesting. There is so much in this book that seemed like realistic representations that families might experience following a situation like this, including handling the estate and the emotions. I liked the scenes in the courtroom that were so full of passion and tension.

There were times I felt the author could have delved deeper into some of his characters’ motivations and deepest feelings. There was a lot of ground to cover though so it may have been too much to include too many descriptions on that level. All in all, this was an entertaining biopic novel that spanned an entire lifetime and lead the reader through the lives of these two women. There are a few twists in there and the ending leaves an opening for a sequel.

Pages: 264 | ASIN: B07HY7T8RM

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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.

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The Dragons of Alsace Farm

The Dragons of Alsace Farm5 StarsThe Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis is a contemporary romance with a deeply engaging plot that will pull at the emotions of the reader. Despite dragons being in the title it is not a fantasy fiction book. The three main characters of the novel are Noah, Agnes, and Tayte. The common bond that brings these three together is woven throughout the novel and each chapter provides a new twist in the plot or a deep divulge into the past lives of the characters that make their story all the more endearing. The romance in this novel is slow building. You will not find steamy sex scenes, rather you watch the deep connection between Noah and Tayte form over their mutual love of the women Agnes.

The novel starts out with Noah living and working in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The initial impression you get of Noah is a gruff biker with a past that you don’t want to mess with. His story however is borderline tragic and it is only by the grace of his uncle John that his life turns into something beautiful rather than just existing, hiding in the back rooms and shadows of SC. Next you meet Agnes, an old French woman living on a farm in Fredrick Maryland. Agnes is suffering from dementia and is haunted by her past having trouble separating the past from the present. Last we meet Tayte, an artist living in Miami Florida running from her own past. Tayte has challenges forming intimate relationships with people and also has OCD with things being clean and neat.

Noah is brought to Fredrick Maryland by his sick uncle, in a last ditch effort to mend the wrongs of the past before cancer takes him away from all that he loves. At the same time Tayte is brought up from Miami to attend the funeral of her parents that have died in a car accident. Tayte is the estranged granddaughter of Agnes. The three are brought together through Agnes. Noah comes on to help Agnes with her farm and keep an eye on her while his uncle and wife Sarah spend his remaining days together. Noah’s specialty is woodworking and his uncle John encourages him to put those skills to good use. Noah and Tayte are both hired on to work on a special community project to honor a local hero, Ely Eppley. The Eppley’s are a modest family with two children that won a prize to have a custom deck built and portrait painted with hand carved frame built. The project throws Noah and Tayte together in addition to them both living and helping Agnes. The reader may wonder what the point of the project is, as the Eppley’s seem to have no clue how they were even awarded this honor. The answer to that comes in the end with a dramatic turn of events.

Overall this book is very compelling, the reader is drawn into the lives of main characters learning about their pasts, and how all the other characters fit into their complex story lines.  The way that Noah goes from rough and unapproachable to the compassionate loving gentleman friend to elderly and children is a beautiful transformation. The emotional journey Tayte makes is complex and deep, this isn’t a novel where everything ends up perfect, it shows real life struggles, and shows that sometimes even the best intentions are not going to work out every time. Tayte is a very relatable character. All the characters come off as real and genuine, no one is too good to be true and perfect, everyone has flaws and good sides.

Dragons of Alsace Farm will draw the reader in, it will stir up emotions and will leave the reader with a sense of “this could happen” rather than being so far out of the norm. From dealing with aging loved ones, losing loved ones, mending family rifts and finding love after believing your unlovable, this book has something for everyone.

Pages: 376 | ISBN: 1534909141

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