The Secret Life of Mrs. London #TheSecretLifeOfMrsLondon #HFVBTBlogTour @RebeccasNovels @hfvbt

I am beyond thrilled to be back on the #HFVBT blog tours! Not only that, but the first book back to share with you has become a favorite of mine: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg.

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San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

It’s no secret that this era, prior to the explosion of the world wars, is one of my favorite eras in history. I also love Jack London and his classic novels. Admittedly, however, it was Houdini who drew me to this book. One of the most mesmerizing characters in history, his secret liaison with “a married woman” has long been rumored. Rebecca Rosenberg has brought that story to life in The Secret Life of Mrs. London.  Here we find London at a time in his life when he is unwell and totally dependent on his wife. She, of course, is dependent on him for her daily survival as well as her desire to be a writer in her own right, yet neither of them are invested in their relationship any longer. She desires to be more, to break free from the social chains in her life and Houdini provides her exactly that. Through Rosenberg’s writing we are able to see behind the curtain into the lives of these three incredibly fascinating people. The imagery is so pronounced that the reader feels as though they are there with the characters. The writing is brilliant, in first person, and with the opening scene – a boxing match between Mr. and Mrs. London – one is drawn into the story utterly and entirely.

The Secret Life of Mrs. London is Rosenberg’s debut novel and one can only hope that there will be many more to come. Whether you enjoy general fiction or historical, this is a book you will not want to miss!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

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Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk

children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“An impressively original and exceptionally well-crafted novel by an author who is a master of character- and narrative-driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg’s The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader-engaging story from beginning to end and feature[es] many an unexpected plot twist and turn.” —Midwest Book Review

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, September 3
Review at Melissa Reads

Wednesday, September 4
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, September 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Sunday, September 8
Review at My Reading Chronicles
Review at Oh the Books She Will Read

Tuesday, September 10
Review at Diana_bibliophile

Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at I’m All About Books

Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, September 17
Review at Hooked on Books

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 20
Review at Orange County Readers

Monday, September 23
Review at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, September 25
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Thursday, September 26
Review, Q&A, & Excerpt at Nursebookie

Friday, September 27
Review at Macsbooks

Monday, September 30
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 2
Review at gatticus_finch

Friday, October 4
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Saturday, October 5
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, October 7
Review at rebecca.is.reading

Wednesday, October 9
Review at This Biblio Life

Thursday, October 10
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, October 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Saturday, October 12
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, October 14
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 signed paperbacks + swag and 7 eBooks! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Mrs. London

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Thank you to #HFVBT and the author, Rebecca Rosenberg, for my copy of The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

The Jemima Code @ToniTiptonMartin #BannedBookWeek

There is more than one way to burn a book and there are plenty of people running around with matches.  ~Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

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#BannedBookWeek continues here at #Macsbooks as I take a look at The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin. While this book has not been “banned,” the contents of the book have been questioned, hidden and lied about for centuries. As Bradbury states in the quote above, you don’t have to literally ban or burn a book in order to suppress the information.That is exactly what has happened to African American cooks, chefs, Nannies and Mammies over the years.

In The Jemima Code – which is NOT a cookbook, by the way – Tipton-Martin has compiled and curated the stories, histories and covers of many lost African-American cookbooks. The books were “lost” to us for the simple fact that they are authored or written by or about African American cooks. It was long held as a “fact” that southern cooking came from the white homes in the southern part of the US. It was also believed that the African Americans who cooked in these homes were “uncreative” and merely copied the recipes that they were taught. Furthermore, we are told that these recipes are unhealthy, lead to obesity, and should not be replicated in today’s “healthier” homes. Yeah, right.

I was raised in the south and love southern food. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that white southern women did none of their cooking well into the latter part of the 20th century. Our grandmothers, great aunts, great grandmothers had “help,” if not outright slaves who did their cooking and cleaning for them. As a result, nearly all of the recipes that today are considered “southern” by cooks in the south, actually originated by African slaves and Creoles living in the south. Cornbread, fried fish, waffles, grits, black-eyed peas, “southern” fried chicken and biscuits – all were originated by African Americans. Furthermore, in order for white southerners to take credit for these recipes and fine cooking, they suppressed the cookbooks that these African American chefs had printed.

Interestingly, I was raised in Arkansas, home to Bill Clinton. While governor there, he boasted about the great food that was served at the Governor’s Mansion. For years, it was assumed that the chef at the mansion was a world renown chef. It turns out that for nearly a half century the food was prepared by a marvelous chef name Eliza Ashley. She had cooked for presidents, the Rockefellers, dignitaries and movie stars but until the 1980s, she received no credit as being the chef behind the delectable food. The Jemima Code is filled with similar stories and it is tragic. To completely “white-wash” the contributions made by these cooks is egregious. Thanks to Tipton-Martin, we now are able to see just how pervasive this cover up was.

I highly recommend reading The Jemima Code for its historical contribution to our heritage.

Thank you to @ToniTipton Martin, #Netgalley and the University of Texas Press for my copy of this fabulous book! And now I am off to put on a pot of black eyed peas and bake up a pan of cornbread. Yummy!

 

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary- Banned Book Week

It’s banned book week – a week in the US where we celebrate the beauty and truth in the books that others found controversial. There are few American authors, in recent years, who has been questioned and banned more often in our schools than Howard Zinn.

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Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary is a compilation of entries from Zinn’s journal  that he wrote while he was teaching at Spelman College in Georgia during the winter/spring of 1963-64. This is, of course, during the rising strength of the Civil Rights Movement with Georgia being at the hub of the student activism. Being an activist himself, his years at the college allowed him a closeness to the student activists across Georgia and, ultimately, the south. While Zinn wrote about his time at Spelman in a previous publication, it was only after his death when his papers were opened and released that his journal was discovered. Through his writings, one can see how Zinn was instrumental in bringing about legal social change that he had hoped would lead to a different mindset regarding racial interaction and racism as a whole.

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In truth, Howard Zinn is one of my favorite authors. There are few of his works that I haven’t read. His book, A People’s History of US, was and still is a mainstay in our home and was used to teach US history in our homeschool. It is often banned in schools when parents discover that it is a truthful account of this nation’s very sordid history rather than simply perpetuating the  myths with which Americans have been indoctrinated by the white elite. His writings always are an unvarnished, well documented commentary on our nation and its people and this diary certainly is no different. It is a tough, truthful look at the deep south and the struggle for African Americans to gain the freedoms that all Americans should enjoy without question. It is a personal account of the protests, marches and sit-ins that were occurring during this time. Having lived through this period and later as a protestor who has campaigned for equal rights for all, it was especially interesting to see our experiences retold. However, the message throughout his book is this: the struggle has not ended, racism in America still is rampant and, sadly, it is growing in fervor once again.

If there is one point that I want to convey in this review it is this: this is not your average non-fiction book, none of Zinn’s books are that. They are written with the average person in mind, they are readable and always they are eye opening and enlightening.

I highly encourage you to read Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary and afterward to pick up a copy of A People’s History of the US. I guarantee you that you will be shocked and will understand why educators are fighting to have it taught in their schools and, conversely, whey the anti-intellectuals do not want it there at all. It is a great read for Banned Book Week 2018.

Huge appreciation to the University of Georgia Press, #RobertCohen and #Edelweiss for my review copy of this amazing book!

Sold on a Monday – #KristinaMcMorrris

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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and for Kristina McMorris this certainly holds true. The photo, above, inspired the author to write a heart-wrenching tale about a reporter who snaps a photo much like the one above, a photo that will change the lives of the family in the photograph and many others as well.

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Sold on a Monday is a historical fiction book based on the photograph seen above. The story is set against the backdrop of the Great American Depression, an era that many Americans have chosen to forget. In creating this tale, McMorris brings the horror, pain and suffering of that time back to life again and in such beautifully written prose that it will carve this moment in time forever in your memory.

This is exactly the type of historical fiction that I enjoy – it’s fiction, yes, but there is so much truth, research and heart-wrenching details that the story comes to life before your eyes. In Sold on a Monday, McMorris tells the story primarily from the view point of two newspaper workers, one a reporter, the other is a woman who desperately wants to become one. Their lives intertwine over the photograph of two children who were for sale, a last act of depression that often occurred during the depression. As we learn more about this pair, their own personal histories, as well as what ultimately happens to the children, we discover the heartbreak, shame, the struggle of every day life during The Depression and the pain that everyone suffered just to survive.

While Sold on a Monday is very heartfelt and at times it borders on despair, McMorris does not give us a maudlin book but rather one of courage, hope, love and friendship. In her own words, she gave the happy ending that she wished the children in the photograph could have had.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Regardless of your typical genre themes, this is a book that will cross those barriers and grab you into its soul from the first page to the very last.

Thank you to #netgalley, #kristinaMcMorris and #sourcebooks for my copy of this incredible book.

 

The Assassination of Robert F Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-Up by Tim Tate and Brad Johnson

In 1968, Robert F Kennedy was elected as the Democratic party’s presidential candidate. Immediately afterward, he was shot and killed in the kitchen of the California hotel in which he was staying. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian, was arrested and convicted – but the story doesn’t end there. 

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Tim Tate, an investigative journalist and documentarian, along with Brad Johnson, an award winning writer and producer, could not accept the government’s account of the events of that fateful day, a day which transformed the very fabric of our nation.

1968 was a volatile time in American history: civil rights marches, feminist marches, the murder of Martin Luther King; the nation was being torn apart at the seams. The calm in this storm, often, was Robert Kennedy – Bobby – the younger brother to JFK, former Attorney General and darling of the Democratic Party. His murder and the subsequent government inquiries shocked the American people to their core. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian nationalist, immediately was taken into custody, charged and convicted of the crime. He has not, however, waivered through the years regarding his innocence.

Before this book was written, RFK, Jr, Bobby’s son, met with Sirhan Sirhan – alone – for hours, just the two of them talking.  Attorney RFK, Jr. asked pertinent questions as any attorney would do. RFK, Jr. came away convinced, without doubt, that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot into his father’s head. He is asking for a re-opening of the case.

As an historian and an admirer of the Kennedy family, I have read extensively about the family, each son, a few of the daughters and both assassinations – RFK and JFK. I know that while John was the flashier of the two brothers, Bobby was the reasonable, thoughtful, quiet one. I also have read Bobby’s journals during a mid-east visit that he and John took before JFK was elected. While JFK was “squishy” on mid-east matters, particularly on the Israel-Palestine issue, Bobby was steadfast in his support of Palestinian and Muslim rights. He wrote extensively regarding his doubts and questions pertaining to Israel’s policies against Palestine and Syria – and no, the Syrian problem is not a new thing, but rather was exacerbated during this time. Bobby supported Syria and the people there. Which begs the question, why would a Syrian kill the only presidential candidate who publicly supported their cause?

Aside from the political fall out that such an act would cause, the forensic evidence never has matched Sirhan Sirhan. In all of the photographs taken, Sirhan is standing in front of RFK when the shot was fired. This is well documented. Yet the bullet fired was to the back of Kennedy’s head. This alone should have raised doubts into the government inquiry, and for many it did. However, no amount of questioning would alter the government’s findings: Lone shooter, Sirhan Sirhan.

Tate and Johnson have conducted extensive research into all of the areas of this assassination and they have presented a well laid out, thoughtful review of the murder, arrest and subsequent inquiry. They concluded, as did RFK, Jr., that Sirhan Sirhan might have been complicit in the murder, but he was not the actual murderer. This does, of course, imply a conspiracy. While I don’t actually believe in conspiracies, as such, I do believe in government machinations and cover-ups. The US has thousands of government cover-ups on record now that once were considered “conspiracies” to the lay American. When governments lie in order to create war against innocent people, an inquiry into the death of a “bothersome” political candidate isn’t far-fetched at all. Remember, too, who ultimately went on to win that election and ask yourself, in retrospect, if he was a trustworthy man. Hardly.

In an interview with The Washington Post, as well as many other venues since, Robert Kennedy, Jr. has pointedly stated that Sirhan did not kill his father, that there had to been another gunman in the room and that a new investigation must be opened. I cannot think of a greater endorsement for this cause than his statement.

I already have admitted to being a Kennedy fanatic and, most likely, would have read this book regardless. It is, however, an excellent book, thoroughly researched and expertly written. The writing is so engrossing that I could not put it down until I turned the very last page – and then I went online to read more! It covers not only the assassination, but the tumultuous times surrounding it. It has been fifty years since this tragedy and it is past time that, as Americans, we address this issue.

I never have been more grateful to receive a book to review than I was this one! My appreciation to @TimTate and @BradJohnson, not only for the book but for their time spent on its research. Thank you, also, to Thistle Publishing Co. and #Netgalley for this opportunity.

 

To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment

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Like a true political junkie, I devoured Laurence Tribe’s books when I was at University. God Save This Honorable Court still is one of my favorite go-to books when I am castigating the current Supreme Court. Tribe’s knowledge on the US Constitution is without rival and it is exactly for that reason that I wanted to read this book. No one knows more than Tribe about the US Constitution, the role of the Supremes and the constitutionality of our government.

From the beginning of To End A Presidency, Tribe sets out his agenda: not to convince you of the need for impeachment or to dissuade you from desiring one, but rather to inform you of the constitutionality of an impeachment against the current office holder, the history of past impeachments and why they seldom, ever, are successful.

For those Americans who are calling for impeachment, and I definitely fall into this group, this is very good resource. Tribe explains exactly what would happen, how the framers of the Constitution knew this would happen and made a guideline for it and also cautions on the timing – it is a long arduous process.

The most chilling aspect of the book is the chapter on consequences. Not since the mid-1800s, prior to the US Civil War, has America been so sharply divided. Even then, the sheer hate for our fellow Americans was not as pronounced as it is now, nor was it daily exacerbated by the media. Should there be an impeachment of a president about whom the nation feels so strongly, there will be upheaval. Tribe cautions that, unlike in the past, this is a decision that should not be made lightly nor should Americans think that their troubles will be over once the current president is impeached. Given the current heightened emotional state of Americans, there will be riots and, quite possibly, another civil war/revolution. That is not to say that impeachment should not happen. America currently is nose-diving, hurling itself, toward Fascism and the loss of our Democratic-Republic form of government. Tribe earnestly suggests that Americans take long hard look at both sides: Fascism vs Revolution/War within our own borders. As for me, I know which side I’m on. Fascism is not an option – it never has been. It never will be – no matter what the cost.

Tribe is an excellent writer who does so in much the same way that he lectures. He is easy to understand and very engaging. I highly encourage ALL Americans to read To End a Presidency, be informed, know and understand what is at stake and, above all, to stop sticking your head in the sand, refusing to see what is happening in this country – on both sides.

Building the Great Society

It’s Wacky Wednesday here at Macsbooks, where anything goes as far as reviews. I have a pile of unread non-fiction, politically bent books that I feel I need to work my way through, one of which is Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House.

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“We have the opportunity to move, not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.” Lyndon Johnson

I find that reading and reviewing books about recent history often is difficult for two reasons: not enough time has passed since the events themselves and our own opinions and thoughts about the event cloud our judgement. Keeping both of those things in mind, I found “Building the Great Society” to be a thoroughly documented, well written synopsis of Lyndon Johnson’s inner sanctum, his dealings with Congress at the time and ultimately what became his legacy – The Great Society Legislation.

Johnson was not a favorite president, he wasn’t even well liked at the time. He gets blamed, often, for the US involvement in Vietnam and, to an extent rightly so since it was during his tenure that the war escalated. However, this book is not about foreign policy and the Vietnam War gets very little coverage. This is about Johnson’s domestic policy for which he is not given nearly enough credit.

It is important to remember that one of the most popular presidents had been assassinated, the world, including the US, was rushing head-long into a civil rights movement that was growing more violent by the day, and the Cold War had been escalated by both Eisenhower and the USSR. All of this was placed on Johnson’s shoulders with the death of Kennedy. Building the Great Society walks us through the various pieces of legislation that, quite literally, put a grieving country back together again and through its expansion into social programs helped, not only the poor, the African Americans, but introduced the first vestiges of rights for women. As hard as it is to imagine or remember, prior to the 1960s, women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts, own their own property without having a man – husband, father, uncle – SOME MALE – cosign with them. When we think of domestic policy in the 60s, the very basic human rights that we take for granted today, simply did not exist then. Sadly, far too many Americans assume those rights always have and always will exist for all. Clearly, they have not and will not.

I never was a fan of Johnson when I was younger. It is only recently – visiting his library, reading books such as this one – that I have come to understand his, and his wife’s, contribution to America. Whether you like him or not, know nothing about his presidency or simply would like to know more, I highly recommend Building the Great Society. It is a thorough and unbiased look at the Johnson years.

Much appreciation to the author, Joshua Zeitz, #Netgalley and #Penguin-Viking Press for my copy of this book.