Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday - Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Linking up with Wishful Endings today :)

Every week, I skim through the "Coming Soon" list at Barnes and Noble for the following week.  
I love looking at the covers and selecting finalists for my upcoming favorites.
Yes, I'm a book nerd.

If I find a cover that interests me, then I open it up and read the blurb.
There are way too many books to read for me to waste one more second, so a book has to grab me...where I that moment.
Most of the time, I can't even predict what that moment looks like.
It's up to the book really ;)

I force myself to stop at 1 choice.  Once I find it, I stop looking...until next week :)

Without further adieu, here's my Can't Wait choice among the "Coming Soon" selections on Barnes and Noble for the week of April 23, 2018:

Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: 4/24/2018
Pages: 336

Here's the synopsis from Barnes and Noble: 
(I've highlighted in red the parts that yell at me loud and clear that I must read this book!)

In Amanda Skenandore’s provocative and profoundly moving debut, set in the tragic intersection between white and Native American culture, a young girl learns about friendship, betrayal, and the sacrifices made in the name of belonging.

On a quiet Philadelphia morning in 1906, a newspaper headline catapults Alma Mitchell back to her past. A federal agent is dead, and the murder suspect is Alma’s childhood friend, Harry Muskrat. Harry—or Asku, as Alma knew him—was the most promising student at the “savage-taming” boarding school run by her father, where Alma was the only white pupil. Created in the wake of the Indian Wars, the Stover School was intended to assimilate the children of neighboring reservations. Instead, it robbed them of everything they’d known—language, customs, even their names—and left a heartbreaking legacy in its wake. 

The bright, courageous boy Alma knew could never have murdered anyone. But she barely recognizes the man Asku has become, cold and embittered at being an outcast in the white world and a ghost in his own. Her lawyer husband, Stewart, reluctantly agrees to help defend Asku for Alma’s sake. To do so, Alma must revisit the painful secrets she has kept hidden from everyone—especially Stewart.

Told in compelling narratives that alternate between Alma’s childhood and her present life, Between Earth and Sky is a haunting and complex story of love and loss, as a quest for justice becomes a journey toward understanding and, ultimately, atonement.

About the Author

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. In writing Between Earth and Sky, she has drawn on the experiences of a close relative, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, who survived an Indian mission school in the 1950s. Between Earth and Sky is Amanda’s first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at

I was a little nervous that Between Earth and Sky would be depressing, but the phrase "ultimate atonement" leads me to believe I won't be left bereft at the end of this complicated story.  Anybody else heard of this one?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie - Books Added to My TBR from Other TTT Lists

Top Ten Tuesday - April 17, 2018

I've loved "Top Ten Tuesdays" for a while.
But sometimes I forget to post them.
Even when I plan them.
True story.

One thing that always happens on a weekly basis is my Amazon Wishlist and Goodreads "Want to Read" lists grow immensely with all the books I see on other people's lists. 
Since this week's prompt is a freebie, I finally decided today that I would make a list of those very books!

So without further adieu, here we go!

Top Ten Books Added to My TBR This Week from Other Bloggers' Top Ten Tuesday Lists 

Top Ten Tuesday host, Artsy Reader Girl, gets my #1 pick this week!

1. Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo

I actually have read this book before...a looooooong time ago. I'm not a re-reader, but this is one I would re-read and wouldn't mind finding a hardback to keep.

2.  The Road to Paradise  by Karen Barnett

posted by Courtney @ The Green Mockingbird

How did I not know these books existed?? 

3.  Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

found on Rain City Reads this week

I enjoy good books about life, and this sounds like one not to miss.

4.  Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I've debated on Bonfire for a while.  
I'm a Krysten Ritter fan but wasn't sure I wanted her to be an author too...I'm also on a mystery/thriller hiatus it seems right now.  Don't have much explanation for that, but Rain City Reads' Top Ten Tuesday list, once again, pushed me over the edge in adding Bonfire to my Goodreads and Amazon lists. :)

5.  Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

I really thought Lilac Girls was already on my lists, but after seeing it on Reading Ladies Book Club today, I double checked.  It wasn't...but it is now.  

6.  The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

Reading Ladies Book Club strikes again ;) 

7.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Reading Ladies again...I'm loving this list and their Honorable Mentions, which is the list Between Shades of Gray came from...but hey, it works for me :) 
Historical fiction is my favorite genre right now.  
There are so many parts of our history that I need to know.  

8.  From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty

If you had told me I would be adding a book about death to my TBR tonight, I would have told you that you didn't know me very well.
Apparently, I don't know myself very well because I'm adding From Here to Eternity to my list from Chain Interaction's list...
another book about death by the same author...

which is my #9 book this week.

9.  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Because I'm stopping at 10, lest my TBRs overflow!

10.  Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Yes, I realize The Infernal Devices trilogy has been around for years...and I think my oldest daughter actually owns it...but I really wasn't interested in reading it until something about it on A Reader's Fiction made me perk up.

As I prepare to post my own Top Ten Tuesday over at Artsy Reader Girl, there are 184 other lists.  
I only made it through the first 49!
Can you see how so many books get added to my TBR each week?? 

I love every second of it!! 

Till next week!

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie - TLC Book Review

My Dear Hamilton 

by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton

• Hardcover: 672 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (April 3, 2018)

The Publisher's Summary
*highlighted in red are the tidbits that piqued my interest in reading My Dear Hamilton*

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…
Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…
But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…
When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Historical fiction
U.S. history
female lead
an important woman whose name has been left out of history 

First Impressions

I just read another review that mentioned the book was 600 pages long...I never noticed, y'all. 
I'm not exaggerating.
I was hooked from the first lines.

Golden Lines

I was someone before I met Alexander Hamilton. (11)

Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. Always loyal. (23)

Virginians are preposterous creatures, I thought for the first, but not the last time. (47)

He took a breath, then stared off into the distance.  "I begin to hate the country for neglecting us.  Our soldiers are left to suffer.  Our ideals of true equality are scorned.  And men without talent or integrity are unjustly advanced.  Schemers and slanderers - " He blinked, as if remembering himself.  "None of which, of course, is proper conversation for a ball." (84)

"It must all be done right between us.  I must write for your father's blessing." 
"He might not give it," I admitted.
But Hamilton replied, "I am told I am very persuasive with a pen.  Especially when I want something.  And I want you." (118-119)


While Alexander wolfed down his dinner and worked out more calculations, I copied his notes for hours, concentrating on my penmanship, until my eyes glazed over from recording lengthy discussions of generating revenue, paying the military, currency depreciation, foreign credit, and instituting a national bank. (163)

It was a reminder of all the different sorts of people who had taken part in our revolution. Black and white. Slaves and free. Indians and immigrants. Rich and poor.  
Women, too. (215)

"Betsy." Some emotion seemed to catch  in his throat and afflict his tongue.  "I would never wish for you to suffer..." He stammered as if unable to spit it out, until he blurted, "There are still those amongst us who give a care for propriety." (236)

He will not be bound by even the most solemn of all obligations! Wedlock (267)

That summer.
What did Eliza know? (303)

"All you do is fight," I whispered. "You fight Jefferson, you fight Madison, and Burr.  You fight the Jacobins, the Clintons, the Livingstons, the newspapers, the Congress, the French ambassador - " (332)

"Bring out your dead!" (335)

"Eliza, this is the way of honor with gentlemen."
"If it's honor that you value, then perhaps you ought to guard the esteem your country still has for you by not offering to brawl in the streets like a madman." (375)

But six of the most talented men in America had turned down the post of secretary of state simply because the irrational calumny heaped upon the heads of public officials was so calculated and unrelenting as to put a man and his family in fear for their lives. (382)

"You're a shameless woman, Eliza Hamilton." (422)

Captain Eacker had grabbed my son by the collar and called him a rascal.  Rascal.  A word which, when spoken by one gentleman to another, demanded bloodshed. (463)

...I gathered my darling babies around me and somehow uttered the words, "Your father is dying, my little loves.  And now we must say farewell." (490)

They'd murdered my husband. They'd taken him from me.  But I still had his words, and they were my solace.  Hamilton could still speak to me through those pages.  His love letters.  His ideas.  His essays.  Thousands of pages. (504)

So the Orphan Asylum Society was born.  Because some life must grow up from amongst all this death and sacrifice.  And I was done with losing things. (519)

Don't tell Betsy, Alexander.
Never confess it.
Not even if I am dead. (545)

"Forgive my friend, Hamilton," Lafayette said, as if he'd sensed the softening in me toward the man without whom I supposed I could have never become who I was. (591)

My Reading Response

What/Who I Liked

the authors' "Notes to the Reader" in the beginning and the "Note from the Authors" in the end.  The authors give full disclosure to their readers on the information they used in their story, the places they traveled, the gaps they filled where necessary, and their writing and researching methods.  I was sooooo impressed by these sections.

General Schuyler - Eliza's father - a lot of Eliza's depth you will see in her father and the way she and her sisters were raised.  They weren't raised to be "ninnies"...flitting around with parasols.  They could play the part when necessary, but they were made of deeper "stuff."  They could bend, but they didn't matter how hard life got.  They understood the world around them and actively participated in it.  Their connections with the Native American tribes in upstate New York and their abilities to run a household as well as medical treatment when needed would scare even some of the toughest ladies today.
They truly stood as examples of the words "patriot" and "family."

the Marquis de Lafayette - I'm going to be honest here...I don't remember much about the Marquis from my history classes...and that's a shame.  I'm working hard to remedy that.

General Washington - certainly I've always felt our first president must have been a man of honor and most of the stories I've heard and history I've studied has backed up this assumption...but again, I wasn't prepared for the pride I would feel as I read My Dear Hamilton at the depth and length of the lives sacrificed for our country's independence.  And I don't just mean those who died.
From the top to the bottom...great men and women to those in their fields and homes, Native Americans, African Americans, and American immigrants from all over the world...they had to know they probably would not see the fruits of the labors.
Yet, they did it anyway.

Alexander Hamilton - a rascal for sure, and a man who literally shot his nose off to spite his face *insert eye roll*
but, my goodness you can't help but like this character...he was a scrapper, a regular person, born of questionable family ties, desperate to make a name for himself, intelligent past what would have been expected a man of his "breeding" - a writer - an orator - a man who really deep down cared about independence and the common man.
A man who despite all the admirable characteristics...was majorly fallible.  He let his emotions get the best of him at times...but he still loved his family.  He did everything he did with passion.  And fought right alongside Washington who was his calm side but just as passionate...if that makes any sense.

Martha Washington - oh, I want so much to know her better - I've scoured GoodReads to find more.

The romance - y'all, I didn't want to like the romance...and I usually snarl at any indication that a story will include too much of it...but Eliza and Alexander's story is just about as epic of a romance as a reader could ever hope to take in.  The word "romance" doesn't really do their story justice...we all know how it ends, but even my clear, logical head was rooting for Alexander to come to his senses and decide at the last minute not to go to Weehawken that fated morning.
I got swept off my feet, y'all. 
My cheeks are a little pink here.

After the war ended - Am I the only one who thought everything was great once the war ended?  Until the Civil War?
*eyes rolling again*
I so enjoyed that as Alexander and Eliza's story unfolded, the reader also gets to see a young country become her own.  There were only 13 colonies of course, and it was difficult enough to get them all to agree on how to organize and sustain what they had fought so valiantly for...imagine if they knew then what we have now?? 

The Schuyler sisters - no wonder there's currently a huge Broadway hit that brings these ladies to light.
No perfect relationships here for sure, but they were their father's daughters.  And they could stand on their own.

The descriptions of early New York - the daily shopping, the wharf, the young country, a burgeoning population...I'm a sucker for rich description, and Dray & Kamoie do not disappoint.

Eliza's life after Hamilton's death - while Alexander Hamilton certainly played a huge part in who Eliza Hamilton was...and we probably would have never heard her name without his existence tied to her - I truly enjoyed her life after his.  That she did not just crawl away and live in shame is again a testament to the father who raised her.  She didn't back down, she didn't hide from people nor the truth, she still worked for "the cause," and despite everything he put her through, she still honored Hamilton's name and made sure he would not be forgotten.  Turns out she might have been even more of a friend to his name than he was to hers. 

What/Who I Didn't Like

General Benedict Arnold - do I have to explain this?

the politics - I was disappointed to see that much of what frustrates me about politics today was alive and well during the battle for Independence.  The treachery, lying, manipulation, backstabbing, scheming, conspiracy...deception played a large part of 

Aaron Burr 

Again, no spoiler that Eliza and Hamilton's relationship was in for some serious challenges.  And to live during this time that even though a woman could divorce her husband for adultery, she would still be ruined by such a decision.  Her children as well.  Not to mention the fact that she loved her husband...and he loved her.  Which seems a ridiculous statement to make. There are no secrets here; it's all a matter of historical record, but Dray and Kamoie made my heart hurt for Eliza as she began to put the pieces together both before and after Hamilton's death.  

The Google Factor (I'm a nerd)

The Iroquois - The Oneida (first allies of the Americans)
Six Nations
Two Kettles Together 
Colonel Tench Tilghman
New Netherland
Major John Andre'
The Pastures 

Pinkster festivities

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison - Congress of the Confederation alliances
The Federalist
Dolley Payne Todd - Quaker
Ratification of the Constitution

James Armistead

The Bank of New York
African Free School
Manumission Society

Shay's rebellion

Articles of Confederation revision
Washington's Inauguration
Governor Clinton
Secretary, Thomas Jefferson

Vice President, John Adams
Abigail Adams
slavery after the Revolutionary War

Maria Reynolds

the French Revolution

Yellow Fever, Philadelphia 1793
Hamilton's Insurrection

Jefferson and the Republicans

The Alien and Sedition Acts 

Jefferson and Sally Hemmings
The War of 1812

Free School for Young Africans

What Now?

I'm moving right along to America's First Daughter and buying this one in hardback for my keeper shelves!
I'm also contemplating buying 3 extravagantly priced tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway when my youngest daughter, my mom, and me go to New York in May!

The Authors

About Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer and a teacher. Now she lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.
Find out more about Stephanie at her website, and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

About Laura Kamoie

Laura Kamoie is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. 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 fiction. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and two daughters.
Find out more about Laura at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Other Tour Stops

Wednesday, April 4th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, April 6th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Friday, April 6th: Instagram: @happiestwhenreading
Monday, April 9th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 10th: Girls in Books
Wednesday, April 11th: West Metro Mommy
Thursday, April 12th: Reading Reality
Friday, April 13th: The Lit Bitch
Monday, April 16th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, April 17thTina Says…
Wednesday, April 18thCerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, April 19thLiterary Lindsey
Monday, April 23rdDoing Dewey
Tuesday, April 24thInto the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 25thInstagram: @lavieestbooks
Friday, April 27thInstagram: @_literary_dreamer_

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday - The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen

Linking up with Wishful Endings today :)

Every week, I skim through the "Coming Soon" list at Barnes and Noble for the following week.  
I love looking at the covers and selecting finalists for my upcoming favorites.
Yes, I'm a book nerd.

If I find a cover that interests me, then I open it up and read the blurb.
There are way too many books to read for me to waste one more second, so a book has to grab me...where I that moment.
Most of the time, I can't even predict what that moment looks like.
It's up to the book really ;)

I force myself to stop at 1 choice.  Once I find it, I stop looking...until next week :)

Without further adieu, here's my Can't Wait choice among the "Coming Soon" selections on Barnes and Noble for the week of April 16, 2018:

The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen

Here's the synopsis from Barnes and Noble: 
(I've highlighted in red the parts that yell at me loud and clear that I must read this book!)

“A brilliant newcomer ... Cohen is not only a talented writer; she is an artist.”—Andre Aciman, New York Times-bestselling author of Call Me by Your Name, the novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning film
A love letter to classic literature and an illuminating look at newfound adulthood
Ava Gallanter is the librarian in residence at the Lazarus Club, an ancient, dwindling Manhattan arts club full of eccentric geriatric residents stuck in a long-gone era. Twenty-five-year-old Ava, however, feels right at home. She leads a quiet life, surrounded by her beloved books and sequestered away from her peers.
When Ava’s enigmatic friend Stephanie returns after an unplanned year abroad, the intoxicating opportunist vows to rescue Ava from a life of obscurity. Stephanie, on the hunt for fame and fortune, promises to make Ava’s dream of becoming a writer come true, and together they start a Victorian-inspired literary salon at the Lazarus Club. However, Ava’s romanticized idea of the salon quickly erodes as Stephanie’s ambitions take the women in an unexpected—and precarious—direction.
In this humorous yet keenly observant coming-of-age story, Cohen brings us into a boisterous literary world bathed in hubris and ambition. With eloquent prose and affecting storytelling, The Little Clan is both a wickedly fun yet sharply insightful look at friendship, feminism and finding yourself in your twenties.
“Like Edith Wharton in the East Village…The Little Clan is a charming, captivating read, but it’s also a witty, fiercely intelligent look at the ways women are lost and saved by dangerous friendships and literary obsessions.” —Rebecca Godfrey, author of Under the Bridge and The Torn Skirt
The Little Clan is a glittering little wonder. By turns gorgeously lyrical, laugh-aloud funny and almost breathtakingly astute, it’s a tongue-in-cheek love letter to old books and youthful imprudence that delights to the very last word.” —Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

The Little Clan has mixed reviews on Goodreads, and that made me a little sad...but gosh Ava sounds a lot like me.  I just need to find out for myself. 
Anybody else read an early review copy?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Promise - TLC Book Review

Promise by Minrose Gwin

• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 27, 2018)

The Publisher's Summary
*highlighted in red are the tidbits that piqued my interest in reading Promise*

In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart—one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager—fight for their families’ survival in this lyrical and powerful novel
A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a runaway train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, Mississippi, killing more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens, one-third of Tupelo’s population, who were not included in the official casualty figures.
When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family—her hardworking husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama’s beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.
Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one, including Jo, the McNabbs’ dutiful teenage daughter, who has suffered a terrible head wound. When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she’s found her baby brother, Tommy, and vows to protect him.
During the harrowing hours and days of the chaos that follows, Jo and Dovey will struggle to navigate a landscape of disaster and to battle both the demons and the history that link and haunt them. Drawing on historical events, Minrose Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control. A story of loss, hope, despair, grit, courage, and race, Promise reminds us of the transformative power and promise that come from confronting our most troubled relations with one another.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My home state drives me crazy sometimes...but it's mine.  
It's home. 
Anything that involves Mississippi, especially stories with Mississippi as the setting are almost guilty pleasures for me.  I'm going to respond predictably most of the time.
Unless, of course, the book is done poorly.
I didn't have to worry about that in the case of Promise.

First Impressions - Chapter 1

I'm hooked.
I'm a white woman.  Dovey is not.
To hear her voice, just the first part of it and her story, pretty much committed me.
I'm not a fan of the white woman saving the black woman narrative, but at this point, I don't think that is what is going to happen.
The descriptions are surreal, from the environment to the arrival of the tornado itself, the aftermath (the horse), the people, their words, their lives...

Golden Lines 
(seriously, I could post 50+ Golden Lines for Promise)

Now she felt the old rumble in her throat, something between a growl and a song that came from a low place, calling back to the train, saying she was sad, sad, she wanted her brother and sisters back. (7)

The wind shrieked through the house, knocking a china cabinet on its side, dishes clattering and breaking.  It slammed the dining room table up against the wall, shattering the plaster.  It tore the front door off its hinges and sent it flying onto the front porch and out into the darkness beyond.  There was a popping noise as the nails from the boards in the woodwork shot across the room like bullets. (55)

Old storm, you ain't got me yet. (56)

Dead white folks good for something. (59)

Old storm, you get ahold of that Devil?  That why you come to town? (72)

The McNabb place was in pieces.  She couldn't say she was sorry. (99)

Dovey spotted a scarf and pulled it down and wrapped it around her neck, then thought the better of taking white folks' clothes without permission.  Who knew what some Miss Lady might accuse her of? (139)

The woman's neck had been twisted into an unnatural angle, sideways and peeled back, white and tender as a radish, not forward and down and burnt black, the way the merman's had been. (144)

A piece of her covering had crept over one side of her face, and all the laundry of the past fifty years, all the laundry in her tally books once so neatly stacked and now cast to the four corners of the earth, came tumbling down on her, heavy and slick and gray with white folks' dirt.  (200)

Hello, foot.  Is that you?
I'm here, old woman. (232)

"The paper's running lists of the deceased, but only the white folks.  Ain't bothering to count our people." (234)

When Dovey found the gun, loaded, propped up out in the shed behind the house, she stormed back into the house and woke Virgil from a dead sleep to ask if he could tolerate being strung up on a tree for shooting the Devil, if he thought that might improve Dreama's mood. (284)

My Perspective

Not only was I born and raised in Mississippi, my husband and I lived the first 3 years of our marriage in Itawamba County, just 20 or so miles from the setting of Promise
Our first baby, a Chow Chow named Honey, was born in Iuka, another place mentioned in the novel.
I've visited Reed's Dept. Store many more times than I could count.
My mom worked at People's Bank.
My husband's family STILL lives in Meridian.
etc. etc. etc.

Tornados...we've lived through a few.  Thankfully, we've never had our own home destroyed, but the tornado of 1936 wasn't and still isn't a rare event.
Tornado season is, in fact, a southern season...integrated within Winter, Spring, and Summer, followed by Hurricane season...yeesh.
We watch the afternoon sky and The Weather Channel carefully.

The setting of Promise was my home...but not my experience...not my story.
The Tupelo of 1936 was not the Tupelo where I lived.
I struggle with words to describe the feelings I have as I read my homeland's history.
I don't seem to be able to describe my thoughts here well at all...every time I try, I end up deleting.
I'm thankful for Minrose Gwin's words.
I'm not a re-reader, but I could re-read hers.

Characters and Details That Will Stay with Me


Dovey (laundress),
Dreama (Charlsetta's daughter, raped by Son),
Promise (Dreama's light skinned son by Son),
Virgil (millworker, Dovey's husband),
Charlsetta (Virgil and Dovey's daughter, died in New Orleans),

Son - the Devil
Mort McNabb (the "good" father),
Alice (high school English teacher),
Tommy (McNabb's 3rd child, after whose birth, Alice struggled with depression),
Etherene - Thursday nights

Miss Edwina - piano teacher, her dog Major - Major knew Jo was in trouble.

Snowball the cat and her kittens - throughout the story, cats and kittens play a huge role, literal and figurative

Glendola Harris - trained as a nurse and returned to help "her people"

the coat hanger - Jo and Son

Jo's "Words to Keep" notebook with her mother

Jo and Dreama's rapes
the tornado victims' injuries
what Dovey and her father saw in the woods - the merman
Son's friends in the house after the storm

"Tommy" in the Crepe Myrtle

Alice's substitute hanging from the tree

The Trick

One of my favorite aspects of Dovey was her spirit...her assertiveness...She and Dreama both seem to represent a new generation of women finding their voices...more than likely they wouldn't find their voices in their lifetimes, but they would set the stage for many young women to come.

trains loading wounded, shipping them to Memphis, unloading and coming back for more

Jo - her smarts, her Campfire Girls knowledge, particularly her medical skills

the imagery...thoughts, feelings became real - hot irons, monsters, birds, winged and taloned creatures, scurrying creatures, the voices, the dreams...I read these portions over and over.

The realization that life wasn't at all what you thought it was all along.

The realization that in order to be saved, you have to be able and willing to save yourself...Glendola, Dreama, Dovey, and Jo

The Ending

The Google Factor (I'm a nerd)

F5 tornado, Tupelo, MS, April 5, 1936

Shake Rag, MS

***there is a shocking set of photos included in the back of the book as well.

Holly Springs - Rust College - Ida B. Wells


Charleston to frontier Mississippi
servants walked with chains
Chickasaws - cleared out of the state for settlement

President Roosevelt's CCC - Civilian Conservation Corps

the shortage of pine coffins

Red Cross - 1936

hospital at the Lyric Theatre - separate places and areas within those places for "whites" and "coloreds"

boxcars assigned to the newly homeless

Heroines of Jericho

What Next?

Promise is a keeper.
I've already added The Queen of Palmyra and Wishing for Snow to my Goodreads list.
How the heck did I miss Minrose Gwin????

The Author

Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra. She has written three scholarly books, coedited The Literature of the American South, and teaches contemporary fiction at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.
Find out more about Minrose at her website.

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, February 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, February 28th: The Sketchy Reader
Thursday, March 1st: Readaholic Zone
Monday, March 5th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Tuesday, March 6th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, March 7th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, March 8th: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_
Monday, March 12th: Literary Lindsey
Tuesday, March 13th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, March 14th: Broken Teepee