Reviews by Betty Taylor

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel
by Kristin Harmel
Captivating Story (7/8/2021)
I love Ms. Harmel’s books and think this may be her best so far. Her newest book is a story of hope, courage, bravery, survival, and love. It is also a story of determining who we are inside and how to become that person.

Yona was born to a German family and named Inge. But when she was two years old, she was stolen from her parents by a woman named Jerusza and renamed Yona. Living in the forest, Jerusza taught Yona valuable survival skills. These skills would be the key to Yona’s survival and her ability to save other lives.

As the Nazis gained ground in Poland, thousands of Jews fled to the deep forests of Eastern Europe to escape their clutches. When Yona encounters some of these Jews, she feels she must help them survive. But because she has been isolated deep in the forest throughout her life, she has no social skills. All this leads to a fascinating story of underground bunkers, danger, hardships, trust, conflict, and betrayal. But through it all, Yona learns how to open her heart to others. And when Yona comes face-to-face with her past, her world is turned upside down.

Ms. Harmel did intense research so she could tell the story of the real-life Jews who lived this story. The writing was so vivid that I felt an emotional connection with the characters. I could feel their fear, their hunger, their shivering in the harsh winters, and the solace that came from looking up at the stars from deep within the forest.

I highly recommend this stunning book to all historical fiction fans.
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur: The Jaipur Trilogy #2
by Alka Joshi
Captivating Story (6/22/2021)
I loved “The Henna Artist” when it came out last year, and I loved its sequel just as much, or maybe even a bit more. As I began reading it, it soon felt like a family reunion. I had come home to visit again with Lakshmi and Malik and various friends, like Maharani Indira, Manu and Kanta Agarwal, and even Madho Singh.

Just as at all family reunions, I wanted to know what everyone had been up to. Lakshmi is now living in Shimla and is married to Dr. Kumar (I saw that one coming.) Malik, just as charming as ever, has finished school and met the widow Nimmi and her two children. But Lakshmi arranges for Malik to take an apprenticeship position back in Jaipur, thus leaving Nimmi in Shimla. Malik finds that not much has changed in Jaipur - it is still all about power and money and keeping secrets. Then a tragedy strikes, and Malik is caught in the middle of it. He must make some difficult decisions in his quest to uncover the truth as to what (and who) is responsible for the tragedy.

I really love how Joshi gives the reader a glance into the lives of the various levels of society, from sheepherders and servants to royalty and the upper echelons of society. I found Nimmi to be interesting because of her cultural background. She is from a hill tribe that moves about with their flocks of sheep. Through Joshi’s descriptions, I could easily imagine the beautiful clothing and the jewels. I could almost taste the banquet of luscious Indian foods.


If you enjoy historical fiction and learning about other cultures, I highly recommend this book! But I do suggest that you read “The Henna Artist” first to get the backstory for Lakshmi and Malik. “The Henna Artist” was Lakshmi’s story and tells how Malik becomes part of her family. It also reveals Lakshmi’s relationship with her sister Radha. (I believe Book 3 will be Radha’s story.) I think there would be too many gaps in the story if you skip the first book.
The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America
by Elizabeth Letts
Stole My Heart (6/22/2021)
This book is officially one of my all-time favorites. While it is nonfiction, it reads like a novel. Letts did extensive research, and it shows. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

In 1954, Annie Wilkins, 63-years old, was about to lose her home in Minot, Maine since she could not pay the back taxes. No money, no family, and her medical condition was such that she had been told she only had two years to live. So, she bought an older horse, loaded her belongings onto it and set out for California with her dog. She wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. At that time there were no printed maps so she could plot her entire trip, so she took it state by state, not always taking the shortest route. She pushed through blizzards, flash floods, desert heat. As the modern interstate highways were just beginning to be built, the three travelers often had to share the road with speeding cars and trucks. There were times I was not sure she would make it to her destination.

The best part of the book for me was the relationship between her four-legged traveling companions: her little dog Depeche Toi, her horse Tarzan, and later the addition of Rex, a Tennessee walker. Their personalities were as well developed as the human characters in most books. I loved them!

I learned quite a bit of history along her journey: the origin of our interstate highway system, the early days of medical insurance (used as an incentive to get workers), the birth of the TV Western, the two great migrations to the West, how local jails were receptive to allowing travelers to spend the night in a cell, and Art Linkletter’s connection to Annie. Some may find that boring, but it is written in such a way that it flowed easily with the story.

Annie could not have made the journey without the kindness of strangers along the way. People allowed her to stay in their homes, bedded her animals, gave her food and medical help. I have to admit to feeling a bit nostalgic for an innocent America that no longer exists. She became a celebrity and was interviewed by the media all along her route. She took on the distinction of being the “last saddle tramp.” Annie truly had the wanderlust. Annie kept diaries along the way and the letters she received. These documents were used in the author’s research.

Overall, this book stole my heart. If you love adventure or love sweet animals, you should read this book.
The Mountains Sing
by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Beautifully written saga (4/26/2021)
It seems almost sacrilegious to say this is a beautifully written book while the content is about two violent periods of Vietnam’s history. Even though surrounded by violence, respectfulness and gentleness could still be found among the people of Vietnam. This is a story of human endurance, family, loyalty, hope, and the strength of the women.

“If our stories survive, we will not die, even when our bodies are no longer here on earth.” Thus, this story follows two timelines, one of Tran Dieu Lan as a young woman during the time of the Land Reform movement of the mid-twentieth century, and the other is told from the perspective of Guava, Tran Dieu Lan’s granddaughter after the Vietnamese War that involved the US soldiers.

While I was mostly untouched by the Vietnam war, many around me were not. While I am aware of the trauma the returning American soldiers suffered, I never really thought about the Vietnamese soldiers. It was interesting reading about the division of North and South Vietnam and the impact it had on the people there. The timeline involving the Land Reform reminded me of the book “In the Shadow of the Banyan” which I enjoyed immensely.

The author’s short essay at the end of the book was very informational. I am so impressed that she wrote this book while learning the English language!
Libertie
by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Interesting piece of history (3/30/2021)
“Libertie” was hard for me to get into. While the writing itself is beautiful, the story did not draw me in. While I enjoyed the first portion of the book, I lost interest after Libertie ran off to get married. It did have some very interesting aspects though.

There were moments of beautifully lyrical writing. The book, inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States, was well researched. The book addresses several themes - complex mother-daughter relationships, feminism, and searching for what freedom means for a young female dark-skinned woman in the aftermath of the Civil War. It is also a look at life in Haiti, where women are still subservient to men.

An eye-opener from the book, for me, was how much easier life was for light-skinned Blacks who could pass for White than for the dark-skinned. It was also interesting - shocking - reading of some of the experiments done to treat people. The sea horse one. early in the book. still has me shaking my head. A powerful portion of the book that applies to present days is how even when a person may be freed there is lasting emotional damage that can result in serious mental health issues. We see that today in some of our refugees.

This is a good book for exploring another piece of American history that many of us were unaware of.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for generously supplying me with a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Lost Apothecary: A Novel
by Sarah Penner
Amazing debut! (3/8/2021)
An amazing debut novel! I immediately became immersed in the story.

Set in London England, 1791, Nella, a female apothecary, has been dispensing cures all her life. But after being abused by her husband, she now also dispenses poisons for women to get revenge on the men who have wronged them. “Vengeance is its own medicine.” She has two rules. Eliza, only 12 years old, is enthralled with what she considers magick and eagerly learns all she can from Nella.

Present day - Caroline Parcewell had planned a trip to London to celebrate her 10-year wedding anniversary, but instead finds that her husband has been cheating on her. Having abandoned her dream of becoming a historian, she decides to go to London alone and immerse herself in its history. Her discovery of an old apothecary vial in the muck of the river sets her on the path of researching the unsolved “apothecary murders” over two centuries ago.

Betrayal, grief, and revenge are core to this well plotted story. Some of the women’s stories were heartbreaking. I had to remind myself that in the 1790s women had no legal protection. The main characters were very well developed; I found myself really caring about them. I loved the suspense and was kept guessing as to what would happen to Nella and Eliza. While this is a dual storyline book and multiple (three - Caroline, Nella, and Eliza) narrators, I had absolutely no difficulty keeping the timelines and characters separate as I read.

I will definitely be watching for future releases by this author. If you are a fan of historical fiction and/or thrillers, I highly recommend this book.
The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Informational (2/16/2021)
I loved Lemmon’s book “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” so was really looking forward to reading her newest book. Unfortunately, it was not what I expected.

I was expecting much more about the women themselves and their interaction, both in battle and privately. Instead, the book is mostly about the history of the Kurdish people and their determination to keep ISIS from taking over portions of Syria. The portions that did address the all-female militia (the YPJ) that defended Kobani were interesting and portrayed these brave women nobly. Azeema, Rojda, Znarin, Nowruz, and Miriam are representative of all the women fighting not only to stop ISIS but also to prove that women could lead in war. They fought alongside their male counterparts (YPG), often directing and leading the attacks, and won the respect of the US Special Forces by fearlessly fighting against the men who bought and sold women. Their goal, beyond the defeat of ISIS, was to build a democratic and egalitarian society and to defend women from around the region wherever they faced discrimination or persecution, not just in Kurdish areas.

A couple of favorite quotes: Miriam comments on ISIL - “Now they can talk to each other about getting killed by women instead of just beheading and enslaving them.” Nowruz says “One day we will be finished with this war. And then people will know that women showed their power on the front lines.”

If you know nothing of the history of the Kurds, this is a good synopsis and would be worth reading just for that. Lemmon did an extensive amount of research and interviews for this book.
The Fortunate Ones
by Ed Tarkington
Captivating Story (1/2/2021)
I was completely captivated by this book. The prologue grabbed me when Charlie Boykin, an Army soldier, is stunned to learn of the suicide of a prominent Southern senator, a senator he knew well. I immediately wondered what the connection was between the two men.

We tend to be envious of “the fortunate ones”, the ones “born with a silver spoon in their mouths”. This is a strong character study told from the perspective of an outsider who has been granted access to the elitist insiders. Thus, we find that their lives are not as perfect as they appear. Tarkington writes of privilege and ambition, and of how that privilege corrupts.

Charlie, raised by his single mother, finds his life changed when he receives a scholarship to an elite private school. His assigned “big brother” Arch Creigh introduces him to a life where lack of money is not an everyday struggle. The relationships he forms with these families lie at the heart of this book. While at first, Charlie is loving his new life, he eventually is forced to recognize the corruption he sees in the lives of those who consider themselves the elite of society.

The superb writing flowed beautifully with no hiccups to disrupt the stream of the story. Tarkington really brought his characters to life. I had genuine feelings for them as they struggled with their vulnerabilities and frailties. I always love a story that forces one to question their own integrity. Will Charlie take the easy way out? Or will he take a stand against the wrongs he witnesses?

Thank you to the publisher Algonquin Books for an advance copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
The Last Days of Ellis Island
by Gaëlle Josse
Very Powerful (11/11/2020)
Only 96 pages, but so powerful!

As the book opens, the Bureau of Immigrations Commissioner, John Mitchell, is preparing for the closure of the immigration inspection office on Ellis Island. In his solitude, he reflects on the 45 years he has worked there. Feeling a need to rid himself of the past, he begins writing a diary. He has nine days to exorcise the ghosts of the island’s many temporary inhabitants that haunt him. The author writes: “I am the captain of a phantom ship that has been abandoned to its ghosts.”

Through the author’s elegant writing, I could sense the emotions Miller experienced each time a new group of immigrants disembarked. “I was always moved at the thought of all these people who had risked their lives on board for a fate as yet unknown.” Miller bared his soul, revealing the struggle he went through the two times he let his personal interests override the rules of his position. “There was too much love, too much pain on those pages.”

This book makes me want to return to Ellis Island and see it this time through the eyes of John Miller. I think the author stated it beautifully in saying the Museum of Immigration now “guards the memory of all those exiles”.

I received this book from the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.
The Blind Light: A Novel
by Stuart Evers
Much too long (10/7/2020)
This book was much too long. While it spanned a time of 60 years, in my opinion, much of it could have been cut without degradation of the story.

While much of the writing itself was beautiful, the moments when it flowed into what seemed a stream of consciousness quickly became dreary. The setting of Doom Town set the tone for exploration of the Cold War era and the emotions around it. For many years, the fear of a nuclear war loomed over our heads. On this note, I particularly liked this quote from the book - "To remind them that the bomb respects no god, no society, no man or ideal."

While I didn't particularly care for any of the characters (I just could not connect with them), I did like the complex bond between Drum and Carter that continued regardless their class differences. I liked how Carter continued to look out for Drum, although often to Carter's benefit. But I did not feel their estrangement later in the story was adequately explained. I also did not think the author's time progression over the decades flowed smoothly.

Overall, the book left me feeling empty. A lot of time was spent drudging through the lengthy novel with little sense of satisfaction. Sorry, this is not a book I can highly recommend.
The Night Swim
by Megan Goldin
Another Goldin Hit (8/13/2020)
I loved Goldin’s book “The Escape Room” so was eager to read her newest one. Wow! She did not disappoint. (Now I need to order her first book “The Girl in Kellers Way”.)

Rachel Krall is entering the third season of her popular podcast, Guilty or Not Guilty. The story opens as she arrives in the little town of Neapolis. She plans to attend the trial of the local golden boy, 19-year-old Scott Blair, who is accused of brutally attacking and raping 16-year-old Kelly Moore. Rachel also starts receiving mysterious letters from Hannah whose sister 16-year-old Jenny died 20 years ago, in this same little town of Neapolis. Jenny’s death was declared an accidental drowning, but Hannah is sure she was brutally raped and murdered. So hang on tight, readers. You are in for a wild ride.

The story is told from the perspectives of Rachel and Hannah. Then every few chapters we read the transcript of Rachel’s podcast as she provides reports of Kelly’s trial. I thought this was an excellent way to step back and provide a narration of the trial. Jenny’s story is told mostly through Hannah’s letters to Rachel. Between attending the trial and preparing her podcast, Rachel decides to investigate Jenny’s death using the information Hannah provides her.

I was kept guessing until the end, and I loved the ending. Goldin masterfully gives the reader twists and turns that leaves you breathless. In the end it all fell into place and I was left thinking: How did she do that? This is also a story that has some depth to it. A town divided with some backing the golden boy and others sure there will be no justice for Kelly. And with the other case, we read of Jenny’s tragic life and how her death was considered insignificant. This is an emotional read that will jerk you around. Due to the nature of the two cases, it is quite graphic at times.

Goldin provides a shocking look at our criminal justice system. This is “how trials work. It’s medieval. It’s not about getting to the truth. It’s about who can put on the better show.” After reading this it is easy to understand why rapes tend to go unreported. What happens here in the courtroom is our reality. By giving us two similar stories 20 years apart, we can see where when it comes to rape and assault against women not a whole lot has changed in our society. I am sure I will be thinking about these characters for some time.
What You Wish For
by Katherine Center
Thoroughly delightful (7/18/2020)
“…you can decide to do something joyful. …You can hug somebody. Or crank up the radio. Or watch a funny movie. Or tickle somebody. Or lip-synch your favorite song. Or buy the person behind you at Starbuck’s a coffee. Or wear a flower hat to work.”

I loved Center’s two previous books, “How to Walk Away” and “Things You Save in a Fire,” and was not disappointed with this one. (And I adore the covers of her books – so colorful!)

“What You Wish For” has awesome characters that drew me in and made me care about them as though they were my friends. Chuck Norris was the absolute best! I loved the positivity, so sorely needed right now. I loved the celebration of family, community, and friendship. After personal struggles, librarian Samantha Casey has learned to find the joy in life. But now the guy she had a major crush on will be the new principal at her school. But Duncan Carpenter isn’t the goofy, lovable, “never miss a chance to celebrate” man she used to know. He is now a heartless three-piece-suit bureaucrat. What happened to him? Can Samantha and Duncan overcome the fears that hold them both back?

The story was somewhat predictable. I suspected almost from the beginning what had happened to Duncan to turn him into such a different man. But I still found the story delightful. There were several laugh-out-loud moments. And I really needed a happily-ever-after story.
The Yellow Bird Sings: A Novel
by Jennifer Rosner
Poignant Mother-Daughter Story (7/14/2020)
The author’s combination of lyrical and descriptive power enabled me to feel the beauty and love that managed to exist in these most horrific of times. Her superb rendering of the power of music and a child’s imagination gave me hope that Shira, a musical prodigy, would somehow be shielded from the horrors that existed all around her.

Rosner’s poignant description of the mother-daughter bond was heartbreaking yet also somewhat optimistic. The conditions Shira and her mother endured made me ashamed to complain even one iota about being confined by this Co-vid virus. They hid in a barn loft in Poland unable to move about freely and always having to remain silent. How does a mother et a five-year-old child to remain silent 24-hours-a-day? When they eventually became separated, I was kept on the edge of my seat wondering if they would ever be reunited.

This book addresses the phenomena of hidden children. Many Jewish parents made the heart-rending decision to put their children in the hands of Christian neighbors they trusted, or sent them to Christian schools run by Catholic nuns, or put them on train transports to another country. All this done in an effort to save the children’s lives. Some of these children were never reunited with their parents.

An excellent book, very moving. I highly recommend it.
Darling Rose Gold
by Stephanie Wrobel
One Twisted Story (3/18/2020)
What a twisted story! Patty, the mother, is sentenced to five years in prison for deliberately poisoning her daughter throughout her childhood. Then when Patty is released from prison Rose Gold, her daughter, allows Patty to move in with her. That right there is a bit strange. But Rose Gold, now a mother herself, has been eagerly awaiting her mother’s release.

The writing is good, but I thought the story was predictable. Neither of these women are likeable, and the only emotion I felt was disgust. I shake my head and think “like mother, like daughter”. But I give the book four stars because the “breadcrumbs” are dropped sparingly along the way, allowing the suspense to slowly build. The pace is excruciating but timed perfectly.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for the advance copy to read and review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
He Started It
by Samantha Downing
One Screwed Up Family (3/7/2020)
This is a seriously twisted family story. I had to force myself to finish it as it did not hold my interest at all. I felt that none of the characters were likable. The pace is really slow until the end – then it goes really crazy. I think that people will either love this book or hate it.
Apeirogon
by Colum McCann
Extraordinary! (2/29/2020)
Truly masterful writing. This novel will probably be my favorite book of the entire year.

I am Jewish, have several Arab friends, and have spent a lot of time in Israel so this book captured my attention when I first heard about it. The novel is based on the true story of a friendship between an Israeli father and a Palestinian father; a friendship, between two men who were raised to hate each other, formed from the shared grief of two fathers. Rami Elhanan’s 13-year-old daughter was killed by a suicide bomber; Bassam Aramin’s 10-year-old daughter killed by a rubber bullet.

Apeirogon - a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. This so aptly describes the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

McCann presents the heartbreaking story of these two men with sensitivity and compassion and leaves us with a slight glimmer of hope. Written in fragments, instead of chapters, I got the sense of snapshots of the reality of life in Israel – a kaleidoscope of fragments coming together and shifting, morphing from one reality to another, constantly changing, yet remaining the same.

(Note: The movie rights for this book have already been purchased by Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin.)

Heartfelt thanks to Random House for the Advance Reading Copy.
Remembrance
by Rita Woods
For Octavia Butler Fans (1/24/2020)
I struggled a bit with this story, trying to keep the three timelines straight. There were a lot of characters to keep track out. As a result, I never felt a connection to any of the characters, except perhaps a bit with Abigail because of the horrors she encountered and her role throughout the rest of the story. This book is a blend of historical fiction and the supernatural, which makes perfect sense with the Haiti and New Orleans settings. I thought the present-day portion of the book was the weakest part. I understand the purpose of that portion, but it was weakly developed, unlike the other two portions.

It isn’t until a little over 100 pages into the story when it is revealed that Remembrance is a place – a sanctuary for blacks who have escaped slavery. It was at this point that I really became interested in the story.

I look forward to reading more by Rita Woods. If you are a fan of Octavia Butler (I certainly am), I think you will enjoy this book.

I received an Advance Reading Copy of “Remembrance” from the Forge, the publisher (Forge). All opinions expressed here are solely mine.
The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II
by Katherine Sharp Landdeck
Courageous Young Women (1/13/2020)
This is a superbly researched and written book about the brave young women who were eager to serve their country during World War II by ferrying new aircraft from the factories to the military pick-up point. Having served in the USAF in the mid-70s I could relate to some of the skepticism they encountered not only from the military men but from society in general. As all able-bodied males were off fighting in the war, there was a serious shortage of pilots. These gutsy women rushed in to fill the void flying 77 different types of aircraft. Even though most of the women pilots were better qualified than the male pilots they were not recognized for their service to their country and designated as veterans until November 1977.

The book consists of numerous vignettes of the remarkable female pilots who became known as WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots). The chapters are short and easy to read.

Thank you to BookBrowse and Crown Publishing for the advance copy. I am providing an unbiased review.
Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo
by Louise Callaghan
Amazing True Story (1/11/2020)
This book is much more than a book about a zookeeper and his animals. Callaghan writes of the occupation of Mosul by Daesh, the new laws invoked that make daily life very difficult for the citizens of Mosul, the threat of constant attacks, the fear of leaving their homes in order to escape the notice of the jihadis, Iraqi history and culture.

As the fighting between the government forces and militants intensifies in Mosul, the animals in the zoo are starving. The lives of the Mosul residents are turned upside down as they now live with the constant fear of coming to the attention of the jihadis. Women who had worn western-style clothing now are required to wear the suffocating garb demanded by ISIS. A strict curfew was invoked. Food becomes scarce and very expensive. People live under the threat of constant attacks.

The story centers on Abu Laith who was always a lover of animals. He risks his life to keep the animals alive while having to make difficult decisions in order to keep his family safe. He has a special attachment to the little lion Zombie. Callaghan introduces us to Dr. Amir who is an international rescue vet that becomes aware of the dire situation of the animals in Iraq,

Callaghan performed extensive research to bring us the true story of Abu Laith and his bravery in protecting the animals of Mosul. She details the atrocities and cruelness of a country at war. But she also reveals the compassion and humaneness that can still be found among the ruins. While many thought Abu Laith should just kill the animals for meat, he refused. He truly loved and respected the animals and fought for their lives.

It was a difficult read for me. I ached for the animals who were at the mercy of humans and were fortunate to have Abu Laith fight for them. I also ached for the humans whose lives would never be normal again, people at the mercy of power-hungry, crazy people who hid under the cover of religious fanatics. It was especially painful for me as I worked with the Iraqi military and felt the aftermath of the assassination of a couple of them. Men who only wanted peace and security for their children and grandchildren.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel
by Kim Michele Richardson
One of the Best Books of 2019 (1/1/2020)
“The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”, the last book I read in 2019, is without a doubt one of the best books of 2019. The beautiful writing pulled me into the story and kept me entranced to the very end. I was fascinated with the story of the Kentucky Pack Horse library service which, in the 1930s, got books into remote and isolated areas of Kentucky. Rural Appalachia is known for its poverty, and reading of the struggles of the people was heartbreaking. These were proud people who had to fight each day just to survive. The coal mines often took the life of the men, and children died of starvation. Yet, with so little, they still anticipated the visit from the Book Woman as the books were often the only bright moments in their lives. Books gave them a glimmer of hope.

As for the blue-skinned people of Kentucky, at first I thought perhaps this was just a bit of science fiction thrown into the story. So, of course, I had to look it up. I was really surprised then to find that there really were blue-skinned people in Kentucky (caused by an enzyme deficiency). It was very painful to read of the prejudice and cruel treatment they often encountered.

The reader gets a glimpse into the life of the book women through blue-skinned Cussy Mary Carter who set out each week, with her stubborn mule Junia, on her route to deliver books to her patrons. I loved her! She was strong, determined, and compassionate. She loved books and, even more so, loved getting books into the hands of her patrons. She knew that books could be life changing. Some of her patrons were so appreciative of her service that they insisted on giving her the last morsel of food they had even though they were starving themselves.

While there are many heartbreaking moments in the book, this is still a story of family and perseverance. The book was hard to put down as I was emotionally invested in Cussy Mary’s life. There are numerous “supporting” characters – her patrons, her father, the other book women – and all elicited some emotional response in me. I highly recommend this book. This is a book you won’t be able to forget. Warning: You may need tissues.

Thank you to BookishFirst for the copy to review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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