Monday, April 17, 2017

A Fond Farewell to the Great Historicals Blog!

Dear Readers,

Effective today, Great Historicals is shutting its doors. 

Instead, I will focus my attention solely on my other blog:


History and Women will not only feature the biographies of fascinating women throughout history, but will also include reviews of women's biographical fiction and historical fiction novels.

So please change your bookmarks, your feeds, your subscriptions, and turn all your attention to the visually stunning History and Women website!

Many thanks to everyone who supported and followed my blog, Great Historicals. I do hope that you will continue to follow me at History and Women. 


An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray


Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.
The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.
Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

REVIEW

When Laurel Tracey inherits her father's ranch, she also inherits her step sister and step brother. Having lost their own inheritance, they now set their sites on Laurel's. Instead of helping her, they are leeches and are pushing her to sell. But Lauren is determined to hold on to her legacy. Even worse, squatters have set up their shacks, threatening to claim the land for themselves.

She soon learns that she can acquire a convict to work on her land for one year. Although wary, she knows this is her only choice to run her ranch profitably. The convict she chooses Sergeant Thomas Baker.

Thomas had a rough life, but had a penchant for doing the right thing. One mistake, a gambling debt, landed him in jail. When he learned he could work off his jail sentence by helping Laurel, he jumped at the chance. Soon after he takes on his duties, Laurel's cattle begins to mysteriously turn up dead -  a definite threat. He calls on the aid of a group of long lost military friends who come from various distances to aid him in helping save Laurel's ranch.

I loved this story because of the strong upstanding hero and the good men who are loyal to him. Laurel is a strong, determined heroine who did not hesitate to take a risk to save her legacy. An excellent romance that is not to sweet, but inspirational and filled with real creative characters! This book kept me reading at a furious pace. A true secret pleasure. 

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese


“A powerful and important tale of love and war, art and family…I was transported.” —Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author

“Stolen Beauty is a work of art itself—one that is simultaneously alarming and comforting.” —Wall Street Journal


From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings. 

In the dazzling glitter of 1900 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the fa├žade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons. Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive. 

Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for? Impeccably researched and a “must-read for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Stolen Beauty intertwines the tales of two remarkable women across more than a hundred years. It juxtaposes passion and discovery against hatred and despair, and shines a light on our ability to love, to destroy, and above all, to endure.

REVIEW

Set in the twilight years of the Hapsburg Empire, Stolen Beauty is a spellbinding Viennese tale at the start of the twentieth century. The novel explores the tales of two women. The first is about a woman named Adele Block-Bauer who is an the love interest and inspiration of a famed Viennese artist Guistav Klimt. The second tale is about Maria, the niece of Adele during the tie of the holocaust and beyond. The famous painting "Woman in Gold" binds the two women together. 

Stolen Beauty forms the base for the movie "Woman in Gold". With its stunning prose, fast pace, excellent research, and detailed descriptions, this one story not to be missed. From the Holocaust to modern day, there is plenty to love about this intense, emotional story. I definitely recommend it!


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco


No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

REVIEW

For those who love Christian fiction and animals, especially dogs, this is a novel that will warm the heart. Told from the point of view of a dog who follows Jesus, the reader is treated to a moving tale about how people can change through love and forgiveness. A quick and easy read that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions! Brilliant and unique.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Angel's Share by James Markert


Some believed he was the second coming of Christ.
William wasn’t so sure.

But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.

Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.
When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious. Yet miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.

But as news spreads about the miracles at the potter’s field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.
The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and of the mystery of miracles.

REVIEW

Kentucky at the end of Prohibition. The Great Depression is in full swing with many people homeless and hungry. The McFee family, however, is thriving because of their secret distillery they operated throughout the prohibition of liquor. When tragedy struck and the youngest boy was killed in an automobile accident, the family deeply suffered his loss.

In a potter's field next to their house, the eldest son named William witnesses a secret burial. Rumors circulate that the buried man performed miracles before his death, and this draws great crowds. As a subplot, the family patriarch learns that a dangerous criminal is searching for him with murder in mind, but is protected somewhat because of his false name.

The story is full of surprises, secrets, and the restoration of hope. There is something for everyone in this lovely story. It is classified as Christian because of the miracles and religious symbolism. If you love fresh, original, and unique stories with a wide appeal to readers of all genres, then this is a good book to add to your to be read list. Definitely recommended.