Tea Party winners: Roseanna M. White's winner is Debbie Wilder, Denise Weimer's print copy of Widow goes to Andrea Stephens, Debra E. Marvin's winners for Ebook collection are Cheryl Baranski and Rachel Koppendrayer, Carrie Fancett Pagels' ebook collection goes to Joan Arning and paperback to Connie, Gina Welborn's winner is Regina Fujitani, Gabrielle Meyer's paperback copy of A Mother in the Making is Teri Geist DiVincenzo

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review of Saratoga Letters by Elaine Marie Cooper

Saratoga Letters by Elaine Marie Cooper

Reviewed by Tina St.Clair Rice

5 stars *****

Saratoga Letters spans two eras two hundred years apart—1777 battlefield of the Revolutionary war and 1977 reenactment of the Battle of Saratoga. Elaine Cooper has penned two-in-one gripping, heartwarming stories that pulled me into the characters lives from the first page. It has historical detail that paints a vivid picture of a time of war, not only its physical but also the emotional toll it has on the communities, their lives and the soldiers on both sides.

….Part 1: September 19, 1777 Saratoga, New York
As Abigail Gillingham mourns the recent death of her beloved father, her cruel, abusive, loyalist uncle forces her to nurse wounded soldiers—British soldiers—in a nearby British army hospital marquee. He informs the matron of nurses, Mrs. Carberry, that Abigail is “Mrs.” Gillingham as only married women are allowed to nurse the wounded soldiers. Bless Mrs. Carberry's heart, she saw right through Abigail's uncle and will protect her from him. The next days and weeks are hard for Abigail for many reasons, yet she strives to ease the patients suffering and pray over them. I admire her strength and the way her heart changes toward her patients—her enemy—and her faith. Enemy or not, one gentle soldier with intense blue eyes captivates her—how can her heart yearn for a young soldier who is British? Is it possible to find love in the midst of such tragedy and suffering? There is evil present and Abigail must stay on her guard so as not to be caught in its grasp.

British soldier Corporal William Carpenter is seriously wounded and taken to the hospital marquee where he is cared for by a lovely, red-haired nurse. As he watches her care for her patients he finds himself drawn to her but tries to guard his heart as she is married. As he grieves for the loss of so many of his fellow soldiers and healing from his wounds, he also sees an evil that is threatening those around him. But how can he keep it at bay being so weak from his wounds? I love William's heart for others and his strength in the midst of such suffering and pain and his faith. Can he help Abigail when she needs it most?

We get a glimpse of the suffering and pain of those caught in the war. Not only those with physical wounds but wounds of the heart as well. As a retired RN, I found the descriptions of the hospital marquee, how the wounded are cared for, the medicinals used and the nursing practices of the time very interesting. It is heartbreaking enough to see soldiers who are so very young but to see children caught up in the battles truly breaks my heart.

….Part 2: September 1977, Redlands, California and Saratoga, New York
Pediatric nurse Abby Carpenter agrees to accompany her brother, Scott to the bicentenary celebration and reenactment of the Battle of Saratoga in Saratoga, New York to honor their deceased father. Unexpected surgery keeps Scott from going and Abby travels alone. She meets Ian Thacker, a British constable who is also attending the event. Over the next weeks Abby and Ian spend a lot of time together and have a mutual attraction. But how can they have a future together when they live thousands of miles away from each other? I appreciate the letters included in the book that sheds more details regarding Abigail and William, Abby and Ian's stories. Mystery and danger follow and Ian vows to protect Abby at all costs. Twists and turns in the storyline kept me turning the pages with an unexpected ending.

Back Cover Copy:
It is 1777. The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War, encourages the American Continental Army with their first great victory. But there seemed little to celebrate for one patriotic woman forced to nurse wounded British soldiers right in their war camp. Thrust into deception by a cruel Loyalist uncle, Abigail is forced to lie in order to survive, all the while dealing with fears that challenge her faith. Danger stalks her everywhere, yet her salvation springs from an unexpected source.

Two hundred years later, on the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, thousands arrive from Europe and the United States to celebrate the event—including descendants from the war. One young American, Abby, meets another offspring of a British soldier. When her life is threatened, Abby turns to the only person she knows at the event—her British ally. Can she trust him with her life? Or will he betray her in the same way Loyalist spies betrayed her ancestors? Perhaps letters from long ago will reveal the truth.
(published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

About the Author:

Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga Letters, Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. She has been captivated by the history of the American Revolution since she was young. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.

Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga.

You can purchase Saratoga Letters here

Monday, October 17, 2016

Colonial Toys

by Denise Weimer


As a teenager, I convinced my parents to take me to Civil War re-enactments to inspire my writing. That led to many years of participating in mid-1800s living history and even leading a vintage dance group. One of the most delightful things about re-enacting was selecting fabrics and patterns to make authentic dresses for my two daughters, then watching them romp about at living histories playing games of the period. It was refreshing to see how much fun and exercise they had! (Note: the photos below are from mid-1800s re-enactments rather than Colonial, but you get the idea!)

Not too surprisingly, I discovered most of the toys popular during America’s Civil War had been passed down from Colonial times and even well before. As you can see from the list below, Colonial children hardly lacked for amusement in the little bit of time they had between schooling and chores. I didn’t even include things like dolls, balls and wooden musical instruments!

  • Hop Scotch – called “Scotch hopping” during Colonial days
  • Peg games – these included Solitaire, Fox & Geese and Nine Men’s Morris
  • Tops – five types were known in England by the 1500s, the most common being the turnip-shaped peg top
  • Jump rope
  • Marbles – most made of clay, with glass ones highly prized
  • Ninepins – early bowling game brought to the Hudson River Valley by the Dutch in the 17th Century
  • Jacob’s Ladder – wooden squares that moved mysteriously down the attached ribbon
    The Jacob's Ladder
  • Whirligigs – various objects twirled on a string, could be carved wooden, worn-out coins as excavated from early American towns and plantations, or even buttons
  • Draughts – checkers
  • Bilbo Catcher – the ball attached to a cup by a string, with the more challenging option being to balance the ball on the opposite point using a hole drilled in the ball
  • Battledore and Shuttlecock – much like badminton, used wooden paddles to bat back and forth a feathered cork “birdie” shuttlecock
  • Fivestones – later called Jacks. Originally used animal knuckle bones, then wooden, then metal pointed pieces, with the “Jack” being replaced by a wooden, then rubber, ball.
  • Quoits – ring toss game with rope rings tossed onto a wooden peg on a base
  • Trundling Hoop – a large hoop rolled with a long stick (note: requires a LOT of running!)
  • Graces – wooden ring, often be-ribboned, was sent flying to another player with the pull of crossed sticks. The other player was expected to catch the ring on a stick, then send it back. Fun when played in a group. This game was considered a girls’ pass-time and was expected to encourage graceful movements.
    Graces at Traveler's Rest GA