The Afflicted Girls by Suzy Witten


Having lived in Salem, MA. for 30 plus years I can attest to the fact that witches are still big in Salem.  In fact, witches play an important part in the tourism that fuels the economy in these parts.  I reckon that the curiosity of today’s tourists is akin to the infatuation of pious Christians or the centuries worth of fear our ancestors felt when dealing with the strange and unusual.  The author has rendered a tumultuous period of our history into a gripping tale of greed, lust and ignorance.   I was particularly keen on the author’s ability to bring to life the caustic atmosphere of the villages involved; the day to day struggle; the ever present differences in class; the overwhelming hold of the church on the lives of the villagers.  Her characters are well defined for the time and for the society they lived; a society dominated by obedience to authority no matter that the authority figures are abusive or just plain blind to truth.  The Afflicted Girls is full of drama as the plot begins to unfurl and thrusts New England into a rash of horrible deeds. Page turning and replete with surprises (some disgusting), The Afflicted Girls is a worthy recipient of your reading time.  4.3 stars



Clash of Empires


Well my peeps and fellow travelers, I have finished and published the first volume of my series, The Mallory Saga.  Here’s a little bit about it.

In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent that will turn into what can be described as the 1st world war, known as The Seven Year’s War in Europe and The French and Indian War in the colonies.  The Mallory family uproots from eastern PA and moves to the western frontier and find themselves in the middle of the war.  It is the story of three siblings, Daniel, Liam and Liza and their involvement in the conflict and the emotional trauma they endure.  The story focuses on historical events, such as, the two expeditions to seize Fort Duquesne from the French and the fighting around Forts Carillon and William Henry and includes the historical characters George Washington, Generals Braddock, Forbes and Amherst.  The book also includes the event known as Pontiac’s Rebellion in which the protagonists play important roles.  Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the precursor to the events of July 1776; events that will be chronicled in the second book as I follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.

The Mallory Saga, a deeply personal history of one family’s struggles during the French/Indian/British war for control of the American continent.

Clash of Empires swept me along into a brutal frontier war of honor and vengeance.          Rob Hagar Bayliss – author of The Sun Shard and The Dead Gods

Bennett shows understanding and sympathy for a disappearing world in this tale of war-torn frontier America                                                                                                                            SJA Turney – author of the Marius Mules series, The Ottoman Cycle and Tales of the Empire

A storming triumph – war, love, honor, betrayal and loss, Clash of Empires has it all!      C.R. May – author of Sorrow Hill, Nemesis and Fire & Steel

Available on Kindle, paperback and Kobo.




The River of Corn by John Rose Putnam


In the year fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  Much is made of that historic voyage, a tremendous achievement no doubt, but with some unexpected consequences both for the crews of the ships and most especially for the inhabitants of the lands they came to.  The River of Corn is a story of Hernando De Soto arriving in what is now the Saluda River region of South Carolina in 1540 and his search for gold.  The author has the Conquistadors confronting the indigenous peoples of the area (Chicora, Ocute and Chalaque) in typical European fashion; taking what they want with impunity and violence.  Besides the antagonistic Spaniards, the story revolves around a black slave, a young Chicora warrior and a wise Chicora queen and their attempts to thwart not only the invaders from across the Great Water but also their enemies the Chalaque.  Without giving away too much of the plot, the story tells of their ingenuity in the face of great danger and the unknowable consequences of their contact with Soto and his men.  The descriptive power of the author is to be admired as he paints an Edenistic portrait of the land and wildlife that existed in fertile and plenteous abundance before the arrival of the European seekers of riches.  Indeed, this is a wonderful tale of what life was like in 16th century southeast America and while it is fiction, it has the ring of possible truth.  5 stars and a hearty Hoover Book Review recommendation.

Hundred in the Hand by Joseph M. Marshall III


This engaging tale starts out with an elderly Lakota grandfather telling his children and grandson about the battle known as Fetterman’s Massacre.  That retelling sets the tone for this oral history-like story of the Lakota and their fears and reactions to the Long Knife forts along The Bozeman Trail in  the mid 1860’s.  The lead up to the battle is told from the Lakota point of view and mainly centers on the warrior Cloud and his wife, Sweet Water Woman, though the author does a thorough job in his description of life in a Lakota village; and their fears and mistrust of the encroaching whites  The author also lays out the misconceptions prevalent among many whites concerning the native tribes, e.g. the military’s disdain of the Indian’s fighting ability.  I was entertained and educated by this book and am looking forward to the second volume and it’s tale of the Greasy Grass fight; also known as The Little Bighorn.  5 stars and a Hoover Book Review recommendation.

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


When the authors asked if I would be interested in previewing America’s First Daughter I hesitated for about two seconds.  Now that I have finished reading it, I hesitate to write up a review for the simple reason that I don’t know if I can produce one worthy of this fascinating book.  Let me start with a statistic; so far this year I have read 60 books and I would have to say that America’s First Daughter has been my favorite read of the 60.  The team of Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie have created a masterpiece based on some 18,000 letters written by or to Thomas Jefferson, one of the more enigmatic of our Founding Fathers.  The man who penned the words, “all men are created equal” and yet was a typical Virginian plantation owner complete with slaves, comes through as a man of deep convictions despite the contradiction of his actions.  However, he is not the star of this story; that place belongs to his eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson, known as Patsy.  From the time of her mother’s death in 1782 to the death of her father in 1824, she was the glue that held the family together, seeing her father through the good times and the bad.  And there were quite a few bad times indeed.  Something that I have found intriguing and certainly frustrating is the fact that much of what is taught in American history classes is that our Founding Father’s are in the main painted as saints when the truth is far from that.  All one needs to do is take a look at the presidential election of 1800 to find the kind of rancorous party mudslinging to see that the contemporaries of Jefferson did not view him as a saint.  He was even accused of being a Muslim by a political opponent…just goes to show that not much has changed in American politics.  The lives of our third President and his family are brilliantly portrayed in such a way as to show them in their true light, warts and all.  At the center of this is Patsy, a woman of immense strength and courage, she had to see her father time and time again brought low by deaths, political calumnies and the scandal of his relationship with Sally Hemings who was not only a slave but was the half-sister of his deceased wife.  Patsy was also the mother of twelve children and the wife of Thomas Randolph, a man portrayed as being prone to fits of anger and despair.  The authors have done a stellar job in the character development of the various members of the Jefferson household, and in the sometime extreme conditions they found themselves in.  I found that Patsy’s life resembled a Greek tragedy or perhaps that of a yo-yo as the highs and lows were one of the constants in her life.  I truly came away amazed at her resilience which is a testament to Stephanie Dray’s and Laura Kamoie’s writing abilities.  Although this is a work based on historical documents, it is still a work of historical-fiction but composed in such a way as to seem like actual history, that the emotions and dialogue are what really took place.  I cannot refrain from recommending this book in the highest manner possible.  5 stars is certainly inadequate but since that is the standard I have to go by….5 stars and a most hearty Hoover Book Reviews recommendation.

Q&A for Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Hello Stephanie and Laura and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions from this humble scribe.  Let’s start with how did you two come to team up to write America’s First Daughter?

We were attending a conference together and we got to talking over dinner about the classes Laura taught as a professor of American History at the Naval Academy. Because of Stephanie’s background in law and American government, she was fascinated by the Revolutionary era. But most of her expertise was in ancient Rome so she was hesitant to take on a complicated new time period. Laura, who was already a successful author in another genre, had not yet tackled historical fiction. We had the brainchild to combine our experiences in writing a book about Jefferson’s influential but little-known daughter, and we got so excited about the project that we left dinner immediately for our hotel room where we researched until the wee hours of the morning. Thus, a beautiful partnership was born!

With the sheer number of important figures in the American Revolution, what drew you towards Jefferson and his daughter, Patsy?

Even though Jefferson wrote so much, he is the most enigmatic of the founding fathers. His mythos is so strong that today, both political parties claim him as their own. When we realized the role his daughter played in helping to shape that mythos, we began to wonder about their relationship. We know Jefferson as a founding father, but what was he like as an actual father? We thought that perspective might shed new light on our history.

This definitely appealed to Laura, who taught seminars on Jefferson. And it appealed to Stephanie because Jefferson cast a long shadow in her life. Her grandfather was a first generation American–the first to receive a high school diploma, and he received it from Jefferson High School in Rochester, New York. Her father and mother both taught in that school where they met and married. And so she has many memories of passing under Jefferson’s majestic gaze, which, through public education, invited immigrant families like hers to embrace the American dream.

I like the style of the book–by that I mean the use of Jefferson’s vast correspondence to base the story on.  How difficult was it to make that 18th century style of speech, etc , into the wonderful dialogue and descriptive scenes in the book?

The hardest part about it was reading all those letters! Jefferson left a great gift to this country in that his correspondence is massive in both quantity and scope. He was also a marvelous writer with lots of quotable sayings. As authors, that gave us a lot to play with. We could almost always find a quote from one of his letters that we could work into the dialog–and wherever we could, we used Jefferson’s own words for his dialogue. From there, we tried to think, and compose, in a cadence that would be reminiscent of 18th century speech while still being accessible to a modern audience.

Related to the previous question, how did you manage to translate the dry written words into the emotional states of the characters, I mean poor Patsy was like a yo-yo at times.

This is where Patsy’s own letters were so helpful. They weren’t dry at all! Her letters reveal more than an ordinary dedication to her father. They also reveal a mentally tough personality paired with a playfulness and biting wit seldom at work in Jefferson’s writings. That helped us to bring her alive on the page. The number of emotional peaks and valleys in her life–as attested to by the history–are astounding. We were particularly struck by how much happened to her as a very young woman in Paris where, within a period of months she was torn between her desire to enter the convent and the courtship of a number of men. During those same months she likely realized that Sally Hemings was carrying her father’s child. She also faced the prospect of abandoning her dearest friends to a blood-soaked revolution in France. The frenzy and moral dilemmas of that time are reflected in the letters and allowed us to empathize with the choices she was forced to make, even when we didn’t agree with them.

She was a complicated founding mother, and as rich a character as any historical novelist could ever want!

What’s next for you two, singly and as a team?

So glad you asked! America’s First Daughter releases on March 1, 2016. And we just sold a new book about Alexander Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth called My Dear Hamilton (William Morrow), and we’re eager to get started on that, too.


“And what of our future . . . ?” I asked.

Mr. Short smiled. “If you could give up all thoughts of the convent, our future depends upon the orders your father is awaiting from America. Your father has asked that in his absence, I be appointed in his place as chargé d’affaireswith commensurate salary. If I receive such an appointment, then I can present myself to your father as a worthy suitor. Otherwise, I’m afraid he’ll consider me a wandering wastrel without employment.”

“He would never!”

Mr. Short chuckled mirthlessly. “You think not? I have in my possession a letter from your father lecturing me on the need to build my fortune. The most memorable line reads: This is not aworld in which heaven rains down riches into any open hand.

How churlish of Papa, but had I not, from the youngest age, also received letters filled with his lectures? “You mustn’t worry, Mr. Short. If my father requested your appointment, then it’s sure to come. But until it does, how can I be sure of your intentions in asking for my love?”

I didn’t expect him to laugh. “You’re Jefferson’s daughter, to the bone. You want evidence. Well, give me the chance and I’ll give you the proofs you require—both of my love and of the world you should love too much to abandon even for God. I wouldn’t have you enter a convent, much less love, in ignorance.”

“What do you think me ignorant of?”

With mischief twinkling in his eyes, he stopped, drawing me into a grove of trees. Beyond us, in the ditch, we heard boys playing a ball game in the dim lamplight. Somehow, in the dark, Mr. Short’s fingertips found my cheeks, and his mouth stole over mine. This first kiss was soft and tender. As if he feared frightening me. Nevertheless, it shocked me. It was like my heart was a loaded cannon he’d held fire to, and it threatened to shoot out of my chest. But I wasn’t frightened and I didn’t pull away. Instead, it seemed quite the most natural thing to kiss him back, mimicking what he did, glorying in every soft, sweet sensation.

At the feel of my lips teasing softly at his, he groaned and pulled back. “Oh, my heart . . .”

The sweet taste of him still on my lips, our breaths puffing in the night air, I asked, “Have I done something wrong?”

He held my cheeks in his hands. “The error was all mine. I’d beg your pardon if I could bring myself to regret it, but I never want to regret anything with you, so tonight I must content myself with one kiss.”

Only one? I wanted to lavish a thousand kisses on his face. Hislips, his cheeks, his ears. The desire was a sudden hunger, a desperate plea inside me echoing like the cry of peasants for bread.

“What if I’m not yet content? Wasn’t kissing me meant to be the proof of your intentions?”

“No, Patsy. Kissing you, then stopping before satisfaction, is the proof of my intentions, which I hope you’ll see are honorable and directed toward your happiness.”



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In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

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Advanced Praise for America’s First Daughter:

“America’s First Daughter brings a turbulent era to vivid life. All the conflicts and complexities of the Early Republic are mirrored in Patsy’s story. It’s breathlessly exciting and heartbreaking by turns-a personal and political page-turner.” (Donna Thorland, author of The Turncoat)

“Painstakingly researched, beautifully hewn, compulsively readable — this enlightening literary journey takes us from Monticello to revolutionary Paris to the Jefferson White House, revealing remarkable historical details, dark family secrets, and bringing to life the colorful cast of characters who conceived of our new nation. A must read.” (Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress)


About Stephanie Dray:


STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women’s fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.


Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER Website



About Laura Kamoie:

Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America’s First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

On Twitter @hooverbkreview

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Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan


When I am offered the chance to read and review a book it is usually of a different historical-fiction genre than this particular work.  I read mostly ancient Greek, Roman, etc and also a fair smattering of medieval works dealing with The Crusades or post-Roman Britain.  All of those categories are stories that do not take place anywhere near the U.S. where I live, so when given an opportunity to latch onto a work of historical-fiction pertaining to the history of my country, I gleefully grab on, even if, as in this case, it is an alternate history.  The year is 1839, the American Revolution had ended in the defeat of the rebels and the landscape is vastly different.  Britain, the victors now claim the entire eastern seaboard out to the Mississippi.  From the Mississippi to the Rockies is French; from the Rockies to the Pacific is Spanish.  This story involves three young friends, Claire, Phileas and Sam who grew up together in New France and who undertake a dangerous journey to track down some vicious killers.  The culture they grow up in includes many facets of the unexplainable, paranormal world and one of the friends harbors a terrible family curse and survives a brutal murder attempt on his life by a group of fanatics bent on ridding the world of any who have the same affliction.

The world the author creates is imaginative and is one that it is a believable consequence of Britain defeating the colonial rebellion. It is also imaginative in it’s use of the paranormal.  Claire’s ability to influence people plays an important part in the adventure the three friends embark on.  The characters, both the good guys and the bad guys, are wonderfully portrayed, the descriptions of the cultures, the landscape, the towns and countryside are delivered in a way that puts the reader in the midst of them.  There is plenty of drama, plot twists, and action.  I found it to be a refreshing look at a time in history that might have been and I look forward to more from the author.  4 stars and a hearty Hoover Book Reviews recommendation.

About the author:

Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan has a BS in Anthropology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives, writes and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends.

AshleyRose has moved 35 times. She’s been the oldest, the youngest, the middle and the only child. She has worked as a taxidermist’s assistant, a milkmaid, and a story time lady. She’s a power-lifter, a left-handed artist, and a right-handed knitter. Her library is organized by color.

The Wessex Turncoat by Michael E. Wills


In the interest of transparent accountability I hereby issue the following disclaimer:  Neither the fact that I won a copy in a giveaway on that very fine Facebook page The Review, and that the copy I am reviewing is autographed by the author with an encouraging sentiment included, nor the fact that much of The Wessex Turncoat takes place during The American Revolution which just happens to be the subject of my current work in process, have in any way influenced or infringed upon my integrity as the founder of this very fine book review blog.  Never even entered the mind; so be comforted, my book review reading peeps, by this humble yet wise reader, writer and reviewer of books and his impeccable, honesty-driven character.

Aaron Mews is a seventeen year old blacksmith’s apprentice who volunteers to take his father’s place in delivering a horse to a buyer in town some miles away from home.  Everything is going just fine until his inexperience and naiveté finds him in dire straits and at the mercy of an army recruiting troop.  Now, I have read the most excellent Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian so I have a pretty good idea how hard life was for a British sailor.  In The Wessex Turncoat we get a good glimpse into the life of a Redcoat infantryman, including the, shall we say, unorthodox recruiting techniques.  His regiment is eventually sent to North America to help quell the colonial unrest.  During the course of the book we see Mewie grow into his new role as a soldier and as a man who is not afraid to take risks to perform his responsibilities.   Faced with privation, hardship and loss he refuses to lose hope and rebounds from the challenges.  The research that went into this book is evident from the squire-peasant relationship, the way of life as a soldier, the topography and battle scenes.  When you combine the scholarship involved with an easy reading style and an engaging story line with enough surprises to keep the reader happy and guessing, you have the makings of a enjoyable read that you may even learn from.

All kidding around aside, this book stands out on it’s own merit…a solid 4 star tale – one that isn’t finished yet  🙂

About the author:

I was born many years ago in Newport on the Isle of Wight and attended the Priory Boys’ School and later Carisbrooke Grammar. On leaving school I trained as a teacher at St Peter’s College,  Birmingham, before teaching mathematics and physical education for two years at a rural secondary school in Kent.

I decided that I would like to teach abroad and so I re-trained to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. I was lucky enough to get a one year contract to work in Sweden, a country I learned to love. In fact I stayed there for thirteen years. In 1979 I returned to UK with my wife Barbro and our three daughters, with a plan. We wanted to start our own business, and we did. It was called the Salisbury School of English.

From small beginnings the school developed into substantial business enterprise. I retired in 2008 after over forty years in the field of education. Along the way, I was President of Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Co-Chair of English UK, the national association of English language training providers.

Currently, I am employed part-time as Ombudsman for English UK. Life has never been busier and I divide my spare time between enjoying my grandchildren, and indulging my interests in writing, carpentry, amateur radio and sailing.

I have had a life-long interest in history and in particular that of the Viking period. Thus it was that I was very pleased to focus on this by doing academic and field research for two novels about this turbulent time in English and Scandinavian history.

Two other areas of history which interest me greatly are the American War of Independence; this is the subject of my latest novel, “The Wessex Turncoat”, and the Dunkirk Evacuation in the Second World War. As regards the latter, I have created a website with resource material for anyone interested in this subject.