Thursday, October 26, 2017

REVIEW: The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires
by Daren Wang

Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Page Count: 304
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Format: ARC Trade Paperback

How got: BookMooch trade

First attention getter: obscure historical subject matter

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

A novel rooted in the remarkable, but little-known, true history of the only secessionist town north of the Mason Dixon Line.

When escaped slave, Joe Bell, collapses in her father’s barn, Mary Willis must ward off Confederate guerillas and spies, Joe’s vengeful owner, and even her own brother to help the handsome fugitive cross to freedom.

Mary has always been an outcast, an outspoken abolitionist woman in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. Helping runaways is the only thing that makes her life in Town Line bearable. As the countryside is riled by the drumbeat of civil war and the promise of an extravagant bounty for the wounded fugitive, Mary finds herself drawn to the stranger in forbidden ways. When rebels cross from nearby Canada intent on killing him, they bring the devastation of the brutal war to the town and the farm, and threaten to destroy all that Mary loves.

My Thoughts
:

Star Rating - 3

I went into this novel due to the obscure history it incorporates. Detailing the only northern town to secede from the union to join their Confederate “brothers” is a fascinating setting and concept. I’ve heard of this event mentioned in a movie called Copperhead. That caught my attention and so was excited to get a full novel exploring that. While this book was interesting, though, I feel like it’s mediocre at best, not the great work it could have been.

The narrative began strong, immersing the reader into a world in turmoil. While the town is situated in upstate New York, right up against the Canadian border, the reader gets a real feel for the divided loyalties of its populace. While there are strong abolition tendencies with Mary’s Underground Railroad station and a church close by whom is also a part of the network, there’s also a very strong undercurrent of resentment against African Americans from the strong German population of the town. The author does a great job in creating a tense atmosphere of suspicion, betrayal, and prejudice against which to tell her intense story.

In the beginning, I also felt a strong connection to the characters portrayed as well. I was enthralled by Mary and her family’s efforts to hide John from the local bandits who hunted down refugees for the reward and the local hostile population. Mary’s strength of will and gutsy nature nabbed my love and admiration. Her family and community members felt like real individuals. I also adored Joe’s determination to live a life of his choosing, no matter the cost. His bravery, intelligence, and compassion in the face of the horrors of slavery and prejudice make him stand out.

However, I’d say about half way through this book starts to lose its way. As we explore more characters POVs and start to divert into other storylines, the plotline loses its focus on Mary and Joe. While this might not have been a problem in a longer work, this book’s latter half didn’t give enough room to fully develop these side stories and alternate POVs. What we’re left with is a mish mash of story threads and half-baked ideas that never really live up to the potential they could have had.

And because of these additional storylines, the heart of our story, Mary and Joe, get lost. They show up less and less as the novel progresses. The author’s effort to explore other stories and different aspects of the Civil War in the latter half bog this book down, drowning out Mary and Joe almost completely. By the time our stories concluded, I felt no connection to anyone, not even these two. In the end, I felt let down by this title due to this.

While expectations were high and the first half started out strong, ultimately I felt let down by this title. Characters started out strong, drawing the audience in emotionally. However, with multiple story threads and POVs making an appearance, the book tries to be too epic in too short a page count. In the end, readers are left with a mediocre title that could have been so much longer. Here’s hoping that future titles from this author get better with time.

Monday, October 23, 2017

REVIEW: To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

To the Farthest Shores
by Elizabeth Camden

Publisher: Bethany House
Page Count: 330
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Format: E-Book

How got: ARC via NetGalley

First attention getter: already followed author and pretty cover

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

The unpredictability of her upbringing prepared army nurse Jenny Bennett to face any challenger at the Presidio Army base, but the sudden reappearance in her life of the dashing naval officer who broke her heart six years ago is enough to rattle even her.

Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher is one of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring government mission overseas--an assignment that destroyed his reputation and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor-bound never to reveal where he was during those years, he can't tell Jenny the truth, or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution to his impossible situation, but he needs Jenny's help. While her loyalty to her country compels her to agree, she was too badly hurt to fall for Ryan again despite his determination to win her back. When an unknown threat from Ryan's past puts everything at risk--including his life--can they overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them in time?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2

Unfortunately, this volume of Camden‘s was not my cup of tea. In fact, I think it stands as my least favorite of hers. She still has that special touch in finding the obscure in history and weaving an intricate historical background and story. It’s her lead characters and their chemistry together I’ve got an issue with.

Intriguing and not well known, the early spy scene pre-World War I was a fascinating choice as background for her story. She does a fantastic job in exploring the early methods of spy training and of the requirements for such a position. The motivations for an individual to choose such a shadowy career path, given the preoccupation with honor and reputation in society at the time, also added a unique depth to the story and the reasons the characters did what they did.

Her Christian values component was handled OK to a point, being very important themes to promote. The themes of forgiveness and compromise made themselves known with no problems. Yet, that’s where this part faltered a bit also. There were times where I felt the forgiveness theme was pushed too hard. They felt pushed down my throat, definitely not how Camden‘s themes have been handled in the past. Her subtlety in this area were sorely lacking in this newest novel.

When it comes to the lead’s personalities, Camden didn’t do too badly. They’re not outstanding but their workable. I like Jenny’s gritty determination to make something of herself and her courage to face the problems of her past to build a future. I also liked Ryan’s gentle nature and caring heart. If ever there was an individual not suited for spy work, I think it be him. He’s too honest and sweet; yet somehow he pulled it off for years so there must be some hidden depths there.

Individually these two people stand out; together, they are a mess. They don’t work at all. There’s no chemistry there. I felt Jenny was too strong a personality for Ryan; she’d run right over him domestically. The will and determination I admired in her would subsume Ryan’s gentleness with a vengeance. I just don’t see them working together, and the narrative shows that. I got extremely bored with their interactions, wishing like crazy that Jenny we just move onto another man who fit her better. In fact, I felt Finn was a far better fit for her personality wise, even though he wasn’t in the running.

While I’ve admired Camden‘s works in the past for their subtle interweaving of Christian themes (especially important for her non-Christian readers like me), her obscure historical backgrounds, and strong yet human characters, this newest addition to her body of work doesn’t stand up. Her leads have absolutely no chemistry together, and the subtleness of her themes isn’t there. If ever you’re going to give Camden a try, skip this one. I’d skip it anyway, even if you’re a fan. I’ll still look for her works in the future; I’m thinking this one might’ve been just a bad fluke. Time will tell.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley and exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 16, 2017

REVIEW: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's Tale
by Pam Jenoff

Publisher: MIRA
Page Count: 353
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal buy @ B&N

First attention getter: cover design and already knew author's work

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival.

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another - or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Pam Jenoff has always been hit or miss with me. I usually either love the book or hate it so much I drop it. This one, thankfully, was a homerun. Rich descriptions of a hidden world, flawed characters who make me fall in love with them, and a suspenseful tale of survival kept me thoroughly engaged.

The world of the circus inherently has that allure and mystery of the unknown. Whether it’s true or not, circus individuals are shown in various media outlets as closed off from outsiders, a world of secrets and intrigue. Now imagine all that in a setting like Nazi Germany and World War II, and you’ve got a captivating background for our story. The background story of a circus hiding Jews during the war is also a true story; I remember first reading about it in middle school when we were studying the Holocaust. That also gives it more weight, knowing elements were true.

Jenoff did a fantastic job in making us live and breathe a circus in freefall. In a world where being different can mean a death sentence and money is tight everywhere, trying to make a living as a circus was almost impossible. Yet, we still get a sense of that magic a circus can bring. The wonder of the exotic animals, the death defying flight of the acrobats, and the overall excitement all bleed through to make the reader experience this world of enchantment.

Her characters were also stellar here. Every single one are beautifully flawed and intrinsically human. From insecurity to fear to deep love, all emotions shine crisp and vivid. I love how each character grew in changed on this book journey. Noa, especially, showed this growth. She started out as such a broken down and lost individual; finding Theo gave her the push to leave her grinding situation at the train station and develop as she strived to save him.

I also loved Astrid and Peter. Both of their lives were destroyed by the Nazis and Stalin; yet they both had the incredible courage and fortitude to stay strong despite that. They both showed defiance in their own way, showing the world that evil would not crush them. Yet, for all that defiance, their emotional scars from the tragedy of their lives prevented them from reaching true happiness. In a world where life and death could be decided on the turn of the moment, this story element truly hits the heart when it comes to these two.

This tale hits the ground running from page one with a daring winter rescue. From that point, the action and suspense doesn’t let up. As the reader gets drawn into Noa’s and Astrid’s story, we get daring rescues, hair-raising close calls, and the knowledge that betrayal could come from anywhere. As we build to the suspenseful climax, the reader can’t help but turn page after page in a desperate struggle to keep up with the pace of the story. The power of the ending and the big reveal at the end is excellent pay-off and truly satisfying.

I’m glad this is one volume of this author’s that I truly enjoyed. She balances suspenseful storytelling and complex characters in a world so vivid I could hear the roar of the circus crowds beautifully. I look forward to another in-depth and fascinating exploration of World War II and the Holocaust from this author’s talented pen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

REVIEW: The Merchant's Pearl by Amie O'Brien

The Merchant's Pearl
by Amie O'Brien

Publisher: self
Page Count: 466 (according to Amazon)
Release Date: July 24, 2016
Format: Kindle E-Book

How got: free from author

First attention getter: setting

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

As a missionary’s daughter, Sarai was taught that love and faith conquer all. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world doesn’t stop for love.

As a teen, Sarai—now called Leila—is enslaved, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the Ottoman Sultan Aziz. Though she does her best to elude him, she’s forced out of her shell when his son, Prince Emre, claims her for his own. Tossed into competition with the other girls in his harem, Leila must face the lavish attention of her young master and the resulting retaliation from his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s an unexpected gift and a glimpse inside his family’s struggles that collide headfirst with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart has a mind of its own.

Can she subject her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future in which the best she can hope for is to be his favorite? How will she stand sharing him with the other girls in the harem? As the sultan’s fragile kingdom unravels around them, will it even matter?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3.5

For a self-published work, this novel has a lot going for it. The author put in the effort to research her timeframe and society setting, not an effort many put in with a harem setting. I also loved the slow build for our main relationship for most of the book. Yet, there are some issues that keep this from true stardom.

1870s Ottoman Empire is a world in flux, the modern world and European powers encroaching on a traditional Muslim world. Told through the eyes of a captive Ottoman prince and his harem favorite love, the reader gets an in-depth and intimate look at a powerful family in freefall from power. Just a short 40 years after this book’s events, the Sultanate and the empire they rule fall. I was as intrigued by the political conversations and maneuverings as I was our main relationship.

I appreciated the time and care the author took in building our relationship into something believable and real. Most historical romances don't take this route, instead of going straight for the sexy times. This is especially true of a harem setting. Emre and Leila reached a pinnacle of mutual respect and friendship before they even start to think of a physical consummation of their relationship. Starting out as friends first is always the best way to build a relationship, I feel, so I was very pleased to see that here.

I also enjoyed our lead’s personalities overall. Emre was the perfect blend of a gentleman and friend. He respected Leila as an individual, enjoying her mind and personality just as much as her physical form. Being trapped in the insular society that was Ottoman palace and harem politics made his personality stand out all the more as he had to please other parties besides himself, so acting in a way that was hard for him and his dealings with different hair him and family members.

My like for her starting out strong way, Leila proved herself to be a strong, iron-willed gal who didn't take gruff from her fellow harem members while also possessing an equally strong diplomatic streak. Ever since the death of her parents, Leila’s life has been one tragedy or struggle after another. So her finally finding a meaningful relationship with Emre and other harem members gladdened the heart.

Yet, as the story progresses, she started to wear on the nerves. She'd blow hot and cold on Emre, alternately wanting to be with him then punishing him for small, sometimes even imagined, slights with silence and the cold shoulder treatment. The latter half of the book contained these instances more and more, as we went along. By the time we got to the end, at times, I felt like Emre could have done better.

I also felt that this book was far too long. Clocking in at over 400 pages, this book felt like it had extra padding. The relationship journey between Emre and Leila could have been told in half their scenes together. Repeated themes and the conversation topics bogged down their time together in the latter half. Maybe that's why Leila started to grind on me a bit; she was rehashing emotions and thought patterns that I felt should have been resolved or at least evolved by that point.

Still, at the end of the day, this read stands out far above other historical romance titles in the harem sub-genre. It takes the time to explore the world of the Ottoman Empire and the many political maneuvering's that were a part of daily life, both within the harem and without. The main relationship is also build up with a firm foundation and respect and friendship, with romance coming after that. Our leads are relatable for the most part and enjoyable, with occasional bursts of irksome behavior from our heroine. While the heft of this volume is daunting and unnecessary in many places, I'd still look into this title if you're looking for a well-written historical romance.

Note: Book received for free from author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 4, 2017

REVIEW: Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister

Girl in Disguise
by Greer MacAllister

Page Count: 308
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Format: EBook ARC

How got: ARC via NetGalley

First attention getter: book about Kate Warne

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:
For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can't. She's a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she's been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

It took me a while to get into this work; my beginning it timed up with a stretch where I didn't read that much due to the other aspects of life that intervened. So how long it took me to read this novel shouldn't reflect on how I ultimately felt about it. I enjoyed this look at an obscure female historical figure whose life reads like a James Bond novel. Near death getaways, the trials of detective work, and war make this book hard to put down. Once you're in there, you can’t get away.

I bet most people will hear the name Kate Warne and not know the significance of it. Yet, this woman blazed so many trails for women in law-enforcement, showing that just because she wore skirts didn't mean she couldn't think or shoot with the best of the men. The author does a great job in getting into Kate’s head, letting us see the woman behind the detective. While she's highly intelligent and earns the respect of her peers and Pinkerton himself, there's also a vulnerable side, a woman who wants a connection to family, friendship, or romance. The author does a fantastic job and balancing both aspects of this complex woman.

I loved getting into the nitty-gritty of Kate’s 19th century detective world as well. With no forensic evidence or fingerprints, the work of bringing justice and ferreting out information is much harder. Exploring the different, clever ways in which Kate and her colleagues went about their work was amazing. Their intelligence and acting skills were showcased to perfection. Then there were the difficulties Kate faced as a woman in this dark world. Having to work extra hard to gain the respect of her clients and fellow detectives, the world at large still feeling it abnormal, unnatural for a woman of her time. My heart went out to her every time she was faced with a slur or accusation; a woman truly ahead of her time.

As another reviewer pointed out, this novel contains a ton of life events that Kate experienced and that shaped her. There's enough material in here for a full series, I felt. Yet, the author chose to just provide really snapshots of Kate’s life. I felt like I wasn't getting as deep as I could have if this tale had been spread over multiple books. Maybe the book might have been better served focusing on a part of Kate’s timeline rather than her whole life? But then that has its own problems too. It probably speaks to the writing skills of the author overall that even though I only got my appetite whetted by a few of Kate’s life events, I still felt deeply connected to her.

Even though I personally felt like we could have gotten deeper to Kate’s life, I still found myself enthralled by this look at Kate Warne. She's an incredible woman, born before her time, whose intelligence, courage, and strength of will make her a figure for admiration. That's all balanced out with a very human vulnerable side that makes her very relatable. This book is a fantastic first look at this obscure historical figure. While I was left hungry for more, this book still stands out as a solid work. Definitely recommended reading.

Note: Book received for free via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

REVIEW: Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

Goodnight From London
by Jennifer Robson

Publisher: William Morrow
Page Count: 400
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Format: Trade Paperback ARC

How got: LibraryThing giveaway

First attention getter: already liked the author

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it's an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby's new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Out of this entire author’s works I've read, this book stands out as a favorite so far. She tells a story of maturing, fighting against adversity, and making one’s way in the world even though the odds may be stacked against you. Her world building skills are also nothing to sneeze at. I found myself rooting for Ruby more and more as the story progressed.

I've read works before that detail Blitz-era London, and I've read great takes on it. Robson’s take ranks up there with the best. The immediacy she works into her words grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go. We experience the horrors of war right along with Ruby: bombed-out shells of homes, those left homeless and hopeless on the streets of London, the tragic loss of friends and colleagues, and the anxiety caused by never knowing when or where the next one will drop. Robson has it all.

Yet for all that, there's also a certain sense of hope, victory, and courage about her characters and atmosphere as well. Despite it all, everyone goes along with their lives: working, loving, and living. They don't let the anxiety of imminent death keep them from loving their families nor working towards their dreams. Ruby expresses her admiration for the courage of the British during this horrible event, and the reader can’t help but agree with her opinion.

The heart of our story, though, is Ruby. She's the kind of female lead I love in historical fiction. She isn't an Amazonian warrior feminist crusader (though there's nothing wrong with that) nor is she a docile, gentle lamb of her era (also nothing wrong with that). She's just a regular woman with big dreams, the courage to strive for them, and the iron will to withstand the prejudice and hardships she faces. Her quiet strength and determination to better herself both professionally and mentally gained my admiration; I couldn't help but root for her on every page and during each scenario.

The romance aspect wasn't as large as previous works. I found it to be far secondary to Ruby's journey as a woman and professional writer surviving in World War II London. Maybe this was the author’s intention, maybe not. Either way, I enjoyed it that way. Bennett is still very much present in the story as a man working behind the lines to bring his country to victory. His scenes with Ruby are emotionally packed and tug at the heartstrings. There’s still enough romance to please the palate either way.

To me, this is Robson's best work so far. Her fantastic lead character makes you love her from page one. Ruby isn’t going to win the war single-handedly nor she going to sit meekly at home, knitting socks. She's a woman like any nowadays who has a dream and the will to chase it. I love her for that. Robson’s world building make the reader experience World War II rather than just reading the words on a page. And her romance is still present enough to make any romantic happy while being more muted than previous works, not taking over the story completely. I highly recommend this work; in fact, it's probably the best work to start with if experiencing Jennifer Robson for the first time.

Note: Book received for free via LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

REVIEW: Little Bighorn by John Hough Jr

Little Bighorn
by John Hough Jr.

Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Page Count: 320
Release Date: June 14, 2014
Format: Kindle

How got: personal buy via Amazon

First attention getter: subject matter

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

Little Bighorn is the beautifully written, uniquely American story of the coming-of-age of eighteen-year-old Allen Winslow during the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the fraught weeks immediately preceding it. The novel abounds with memorable characters, including Allen himself, his beautiful sixteen-year-old traveling companion, Addie, and the brave but monomaniacal Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Hough brings to life the American West and heartbreaking history, brilliantly portraying the flawed and tormented Custer.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

I had the opportunity recently to re-visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield after twenty years. I first visited as a child and of course at that age you’re not really paying attention nor can grasp the true significance of the events discussed. Now, I was able to absorb so much more and immerse myself into the history presented. So of course my interest was perked to read more on the battle. I’ve had this title on my Kindle for quite a while, two years in fact. It’s been on my to-read list for three. So now was a great time to dig in.

Given what I've recently learned after my historical immersion, the author seemed to have stuck pretty closely with the history that’s known, without an excessive use of creative license. As Allen goes west and is sucked into the Custer family’s orbit of influence, the reader travels along with him into the historical record.

From small period details like travel by train, dress, and daily army fort life to analyzing aspects of the battle itself and interpersonal politics between the officers, Hough shows he’s taken the time to get the historical details right and relay them to his audience perfectly. The author even discusses how he went to the battlefield itself so he’s seen the landscape and immersed himself as well. That’s dedication…

Hough also does a fairly well done job in characterization. He gets into the mind and personal feelings of George Armstrong Custer, giving us a possible insight into why Custer did what he did and how he felt. This mystical American West figure feels more human in Hough’s hands. Allen and Addie are the perfect foils to tell the main story through. Their initial innocence and emerging maturity make the journey very relatable. The reader can’t help but be drawn into their struggle and lives as they deal with the momentous events that was Little Bighorn.

The one hitch I found for this work was the writing style. Descriptive passages were done well, giving a great sense of the vastness that was Montana and the Dakotas at that time (and really still is) and also the workings of the various historical settings. Yet, when it came to conversations/dialogue, the narrative tended to turn choppy and abrupt. Rather than being incorporated into other paragraphs, people talking mostly got their own paragraphs, even if conversation exchanges only involved 3-4 words.

Despite that discrepancy, Hough tells a rousing tale of bravery, maturing through epic events, and humanization of history. He has relatable characters and conveys the history of his story descriptively. I was swept along for the adventure and the tragedy, living each moment with Allen, Addie, and Custer. I’d recommend this work to any lover of history, especially the American West. It takes a seminal event in that historical timeline and brings it to vivid life.