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THE LONG WAY HOME: Based on the True Story of Slaves Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele ~Kevin Bannister

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

THE LONG WAY HOME is just crackerjack good historic fiction.  I would like to recommend it for schools for Black History Month and any of the folks who love reading about the Revolutionary War and Slavery and Success-World Changers.

Thomas and Murphy are young boys living in the 1700’s who are working on a Southern Plantation and they keep running away.  One has lived all his life on the Plantation and worked in the schoolhouse, the other is a highly educated “prince” from an African tribe recently sold into slavery by his uncle.

The two are always planning and working hard.   They are watching out for the bounty hunters and being captured and sold over and over again, even with all the whippings and branding marks used to torture them.

On one of their runs they discover the British solders have made an offer, they run towards to sign up to receive freedom and land enough to farm.  They are good warriors and workers in the Black Brigade during the War for Independence.

I could not find research information that Kevin Bannister used to collect this story but maybe the mention of Murphy Steele writing down his story at the end of the book is the source of discovery for the author?

TLC Book Tours did send me an advance copy of the book and also shared these reviews on their site:

“The author has written about such a sensitive topic and in a very beautiful way. The reader will become immersed in a reality that may seem too distant, but written in a language that conjures very vivid images, a tale that will speak to the hearts of readers with eloquence. Bannister has successfully combined historical facts with glowing imagination to deliver a masterpiece that will be well received by lovers of historical fiction. His language succinctly portrays the world of a slave and the injustices prevalent in that world.”–Romuald Dzemo, author of Courage To Embrace Yourself and You Can’t Be A Failure

About Kevin Bannister

Kevin Bannister is a rancher and writer living in the beautiful foothills of central Alberta. He would like Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele to be celebrated as the heroes that they were in their lifetimes and to be inspirations to young people everywhere to persevere in the face of bigotry, poverty, government indifference or any other adversity.

“Kevin Bannister’s Long Way Home is a novel that grabs your attention from the start and keeps you riveted to the last word. . It is written around an era where the life of an Indigenous North American, and a person of African roots, were deemed by Caucasians to be easily expendable and not a thing to trouble a conscience. It highlights in great detail the fact that when greed and self- interest came to the forefront during the American Revolution that Caucasian brothers had no compulsion about inflicting unspeakable barbarities upon each other. An unforgettable read!”–Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., LLD, DLIT, Mi’kmaw eldering, author of We Were Not The Savages, Order of Canada recipient, journalist and lecturer, www.danielpaul.com

I truly believe that history fiction is a wonderful way to explore history and learn about life, which came before.

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LA BELLE CRE’OLE: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris ~Alina Garcia Lapuerta

Monday, November 10th, 2014

“The phrase ‘creole’ often puzzles the modern reader.  Many think that creole or criolla (in Spanish) means a person of mixed race from the former slave-owning states or the Caribbean.  However, the word merely indicates that someone was born in a colony, generally of European descent.” (From the author’s notes)

LA BELLE CREOLE is a biography about Maria de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo.   She is a heroine to the people of Cuba, who was raised by her material Great Grandmother on the family plantations  where she had free reign in her comings and goings until she was reconnected with her parents at age 9 with her Father and 13 with her mother.   Mercedes lived many years in Paris and Madrid before returning to Havana in the 1840s.  She was born February 6, 1789 in Havana, her parents left for Europe a few months later.

Her father thought a convent would be the best situation for Mercedes, but that was not to be with this society girl and her big ideas.

I read an advanced PDF copy of the book which did not include pictures or cover; I thought I should share Amazon’s Book Description here so we would both know the cover words:

The adventurous woman nicknamed La Belle Créole is brought to life in this book through the full use of her memoirs, contemporary accounts, and her intimate letters. The fascinating María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as Mercedes, and later the Comtesse Merlin, was a Cuban-born aristocrat who was years ahead of her time as a writer, a socialite, a salon host, and a participant in the Cuban slavery debate. Raised in Cuba and shipped off to live with her socialite mother in Spain at the age of 13, Mercedes triumphed over the political chaos that blanketed Europe in the Napoleonic days, by charming aristocrats from all sides with her exotic beauty and singing voice. She married General Merlin in Napoleon’s army and discussed painting with Francisco de Goya. In Paris she hosted the city’s premier musical salon where Liszt, Rossini, and great divas of the day performed for Rothschilds, Balzac, and royalty. Celebrated as one of the greatest amateur sopranos of her day, Mercedes also achieved fame as a writer. Her memoirs and travel writings introduced European audiences to 19th-century Cuban society and contributed to the debate over slavery. Mercedes has recently been rediscovered as Cuba’s earliest female author and one who deserves a place in the canon of Latin American literature.

The early reviewers on Amazon have all given it 5 stars and written very positive reviews.  For those readers who love a biography this book is a “treat” and it is very well written.   The author went to Georgetown University and now resides in England and is also Cuban heritage.  I was thinking as I worked my way through the book, how much my mother would have loved this story and enjoyed the extensive family history and the stunning descriptive paragraphs all gleaned from the author’s extensive research.

About the Author 
Alina Garcia Lapuerta Facebook

The copy of this book was sent to me by Chicago Review Press  for review and I appreciated the opportunity.

LA BELLE CREOLE was a good read.   I was saddened to learn that my copy did not include the family tree which was at the back of the book.  I grew a bit weary of the long narratives about the family at the beginning – the begats.  Family intermarriage was a security issue to keep the rich, rich and I get exhausted by the private club this creates in the world.

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THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Elizabeth Gilbert (New York Times Bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


On Facebook, Audible.com offered me a free copy of THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.   I was delighted because I wanted to read this book even before it was published as I truly relish Gilbert’s writing voice.  The precision and language usage I always find awesome, it transports me, my reading skills improve and I find challenge which pushes me to better analysis and understanding.
I have been reading Gilbert’s stories for a long time, as a friend of mine discovered her cowboy stories in a men’s magazine and he passed them along as he knew I would like her style.   I have not been disappointed.  I am sure I could write 500 words about the writing.  I will say Ms. Stevenson the reader of this audible book was just so skilled also and it allowed me to recover from a small surgery while keeping my eyes closed and my ears attentive.    The book is over 500 pages, and that was a perfect recovery time.

Alma Whittaker was born in Philadelphia on her father’s estate just a few days into the 1800s.  Her father Henry Whittaker began life as a poor man in England who worked in a garden as a tree pruner.  He had a business sense and he learned Botany from the earth and the plants and the skills of others. He was determined to be wealthy and was quite an entrepreneurial fellow.   He found a strict Dutch wife who would have this newly wealthy man who was also a Botanist and together they forged a path into the Age of Enlightenment with determination.  Alma’s father began one of the first Pharmaceutical companies based on plant medicinals.  Their home was a laboratory for guests and wisdom and all the new found science and knowledge.  The education of Alma was rigorous and futuristic.  Alma became a Botanist in her own rights, delving into the norms of evolution and changing minds.

The story reveals all the changing mores of this time period.  The Quaker Movement against slavery and their new schools, the beginning fight for women’s rights, the preparation for the industrial revolution, the rise of public education, the changing religious traditions, and the scientific exploration and explosion of ideas are all explored.  Books were more readily available and more printers established publishing houses.  Because Alma was isolated on her family’s estate, she showed us how the world was changing with each venture forth with fresh vision and appealing analysis.  We are taken to Peru, South Seas islands, and then back to Europe; the end of the story finds Alma about 95 and living in Amsterdam with her Mother’s younger brother.  An historic saga, or an adventure story I am not sure if I need to classify this work as anything more than a great reminder of history and discovery.  THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS was a marvelous read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes exquisite writing and complete story telling with lots of details.

This novel was the perfect way to start a year of reading and reviewing.  The history provided the historic back story to 4 more books on my review list. I was better prepared to read these other stories and understand the context of the shared time periods and appreciate what the 19th Century provided to the global evolution of human kind, opened the door to medical breakthroughs and paved the technological outreach of today.   The format of an audible book was perfect for me to use while driving or healing, although I was frustrated with not being able to go back and make notes, underline, and find a beginning quote for this review. I hope all of my daughters will read this book and maybe I can persuade one of my book groups; the length makes it prohibitive.

Thank you to Audible.com  for sharing this book with me.  THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is an excellent read.

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