Spies, cowboys, Teddy Roosevelt & more!

This month, we again start with outstanding nonfiction.
“The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard is the story of Teddy Roosevelt’s journey down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon. Astonishing in so many ways, not the least of which is how Teddy survived! Called the David McCullough of this generation, Millard is a marvelous writer. Meticulous research combined with enthralling text make this a must-read tale of true adventure. Be sure to read her other books: “Destiny of the Republic,” “Hero of the Empire” and “River of the Gods.” 
“Son of the Old West” by Nathan Ward is a compelling read featuring vivid description of life in the West. Charlie Siringo, the subject of this book, was unknown to me, but he was a multitalented man of the late 1800s into the first half of the 20th century. He was a true cowboy, rancher, Pinkerton detective, novelist, poet and later, actor and stuntman. 
Fiction does not take a back seat this month with loads of historical fiction to enlighten and entertain.
“The Storm We Made” by Vanessa Chan is set in 1945 Malaya. The story is about a housewife who worked as a spy a decade earlier under British rule, who now has to cover up her transgression to save her family in the final throes of WWII. A story of great sacrifice.
“The Frozen River” by Ariel Lawhon is based on the actual diaries of Martha Ballard, an 18th century midwife. This is a murder mystery as well as an unflinching portrayal of life in New England at the start of our country. It wasn’t easy, just, or fair. An excellent read.
“The House is on Fire” by Rachel Beanland is a fictionalized account about a packed theater that went up in flames in 1811 in Richmond, Virginia. Who gets out, how do they recall their actions and who is blamed make for a sobering tale of deceit, shame and dishonor, but also, bravery, courage and love.
“The Adversary” by Michael Crummey is a blistering tale of sibling animosity as sister and brother in a small town on the coast of Newfoundland fight tooth and nail to control the commerce in their village. There is a lot of violence which is typical of the period (18th century) and the story is bawdy in action and conversation, but it is a heck of a story and moves along at a rapid clip. Hold onto your hat. In the author’s notes, he mentions the use of the diaries of Martha Ballard (see above) as a resource.
“Go As a River” by Shelley Read certainly has some heartbreak, but there is also redemption, love, tranquility, and the healing powers of nature. It is inspired by the events of the creation of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, which led to the flooding and destruction of Iola, Colorado, in 1963.
“The Rice Birds” by Lindy Keane Carter is set in Charleston in 1849. This story begins with Irish sisters sailing to New York to find work but becoming separated. One comes to Charleston and becomes friends with a young enslaved girl at a plantation where they work. They flee the property and attempt to get to the North. Detailed research of multiple resources lends this story authenticity.
“Northwoods” by Amy Pease is a murder mystery set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. The pharmaceutical industry does not come out well in this account of contemporary society.
“The Christmas Guest” by Peter Swanson depicts deceit of the highest order perpetrated at an English manor house. If you enjoyed the movie “Saltburn,” this book is for you. 
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Daniel Island, SC 29492 

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