(Review)Written in their Stars by Elizabeth St. John

WITS_Blog Tour Poster

02_Written in Their Stars

Publisher and Publication Date: Falcon Historical. November 19, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 474.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who love the time period of mid to late 1600s England.
Rating: Excellent.

Book tour landing page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Amazon link The Kindle Unlimited is free.

Two additional books were previous to the book I’m reviewing.

The Lady in the Tower

Book One 

by love divided

Book Two 

About the author:
03_Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An award-winning author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…
For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

London, 1649. Horrified eyewitnesses to King Charles’s bloody execution, Royalists Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley plot to return the king’s exiled son to England’s throne, while their radical cousin Luce, the wife of king-killer John Hutchinson, rejoices in the new republic’s triumph. Nan exploits her high-ranking position as Countess of Rochester to manipulate England’s great divide, flouting Cromwell and establishing a Royalist spy network; while Frances and her husband Allen join the destitute prince in Paris’s Louvre Palace to support his restoration. As the women work from the shadows to topple Cromwell’s regime, their husbands fight openly for the throne on England’s bloody battlefields.
But will the return of the king be a victory, or destroy them all? Separated by loyalty and bound by love, Luce, Nan and Frances hold the fate of England—and their family—in their hands.
A true story based on surviving memoirs of Elizabeth St.John’s family, Written in their Stars is the third novel in the Lydiard Chronicles series.

My Thoughts:
The main reason I love this story is it shows the love of family. And just in this one theme there are several things noted: strength, loyalty, perseverance, steadfastness, affection, protection, and dedication.
I love this story, because it is the history of the author, Elizabeth St. John’s family. This made the story enticing and rich.
The time period for this novel begins at the execution of Charles I. Afterwards, the Commonwealth and Protectorate ruled (1649-1660.) Charles II, was crowned April 23, 1661, as King of England. It was during these years the book shares the life stories of the following characters: John and Luce Hutchinson, Allen and Frances Apsley, and Nan and Henry Wilmot. Each of them had strong rolls in the history of England.
Dialogue is strong in Written in their Stars. The conversations are between the characters. They discuss fears, gossip, plots, insecurities, sadness, joy, prayers, and an anguished heart. It is because of the intimate dialogue that I became apart of the story and apart of the character’s lives.
Nan is my favorite character. She is a valiant person. There were times I imagined her with a crown on her head-as ruler of a nation and not just in her home.

During the blog tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Written in their Stars! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules:
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to US residents 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.

Link for the giveaway: https://gleam.io/APiuX/written-in-their-stars


(Review) Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy
Publisher and Publication Date: Ballantine Books. Paperback published December 3, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 384.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who want to read the background story of the book and film, The Wizard of Oz.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link




Britannica link for L. Frank Baum
Biography on L. Frank Baum 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a link at Britannica 


L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)


Frank and Maud Baum in Egypt (1906)

Maud Gage Baum (1861-1953)
I’ve searched her name. She has a Wikipedia bio but she is not on Britannica.

Finding Dorothy is about the wife of L. Frank Baum. Maud Gage Baum found out in 1938 that Hollywood was making a film about her late husband’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She worked hard at trying to get on to the set of the film so she can make sure the film is true to what her husband had written. Maud was a formidable woman. She had tenacity and a keen eye. She didn’t take a closed door as a no. She also took under her wing, Judy Garland. She had empathy for the young starlet.
I was drawn to the book because I love the film, The Wizard of Oz. I also enjoy reading about Judy Garland. I love to hear her sing. I love to watch other films she made. I thought the book was about Judy Garland or the film, because of the title. I was mistaken. The book, Finding Dorothy, is about the life of Maud Gage Baum; and, secondly, it is about the book and film, followed by Judy Garland.
The book goes back and forth in time. Beginning in 1871; and, also in 1938. In the year 1871, Maud is a young girl in New York state. This is where her life picks up. Maud will reflect back on life before marrying Frank Baum, their married life, and the years the film was made (1938-1939.)


Enter a caption

My Thoughts:
As I’d shared under the summary, I’m disappointed the book was more about Maud Baum. I wanted to read a book about the making of the film, The Wizard of Oz, and about Judy Garland who was cast as Dorothy. However, I understand from reading Finding Dorothy how Frank Baum came up with the creative ideas for the books. There is actually a total of 43, plus a few that are Oz related. I’ve not read any of the books. I found, way back on my Kindle list of books, the first book in the series.
My favorite parts in the book is Maud’s observations of Judy Garland. Maud is the fly (so to speak) in the room watching the filming of scenes. Maud has reservations about Judy’s age, but when she hears the voice of Judy singing, Over the Rainbow, her opinion changes. Through Maud’s observations, I see the affects on Judy from what the studio groomed her to be. She was a young girl with a big voice. She had a talent that the industry swept down on like vultures. They saw big money. And, her mother didn’t help.
Letts’ gave a strong and vivid picture of Judy as an innocent, doe-eyed beauty.
In Maud’s life story, I learned about culture and standards for women during the late 1800s. Maud’s mother was a suffragette. She worked tirelessly to gain the ability for women to vote. Maud was a woman with strong opinions and she voiced them. Many women in this era kept their mouths closed.

(Review) Three books by Ruth Chou Simons





Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.
Genre: Art. Christian devotional.
Pages: 224.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional material.
Rating: Excellent.
Product dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches .
Amazon link



garden of truth

Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.
Genre: Art. Christian Devotional.
Pages: 120.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional material.
Rating: Very good. My least favorite only because it’s small (5.3 inch width by 7.1 inch length.) However, it’s a lovely book and compliments the trio.
Amazon link


Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2019.
Genre: Art. Christian devotional.
Pages: 224.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional content.
Rating: Excellent. This book is my favorite of all three. It’s also the first one I bought which led me to buy all three.
Dimensions of the book: 7.6 x 1 x 9.1 inches.
Amazon link 

The Amazon links show illustrations of all the books.
All three are amazing.
They are beautiful to read all the way through from the first page to the last.

Beholding and Becoming addresses issues like:
God as the Creator,
learn to live the life we have,
our treasures,
the words we speak.

You can find the author @ GraceLaced. 




(Review) The Works of Anne Bradstreet (The John Harvard Library)

Publisher and Publication Date: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2010.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 310.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Poetry readers. Readers who are interested in Puritan beliefs and history.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672

Recently, I read and reviewed another book about Anne Bradstreet. That book was more biography than poetry. This book, The Works of Anne Bradstreet, is more poetry than biography. I recommend both books. Together they give a full picture of Bradstreet, both her life and poetry.

It’s interesting, and a coincidence, that a book I’ve just read, Beheld, begins in 1630. This is the same year Anne Bradstreet arrived in Salem, Massachusetts. Beheld is the story of the first murder in the settlement of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Beheld is historical fiction.

Sometimes when I read books of poetry I don’t read every poem. I read this book cover to cover. I wanted to see if there was a transition of maturity in her writing. I wanted to see her character in the poetry. I wanted to see her life perspective. Lastly, I wanted to know Bradstreet, the person she was.

This is what I learned about Anne Bradstreet:

  • She was an intelligent, wise, and deep thinking person.
  • She wrote with a deep desire and need to express what was in her heart.
  • She was passionate.
  • The Bible and her relationship with God was important.
  • Her Puritan beliefs was the standard for which everything else was decided.
  • She experienced tragedy. She had close family members who died, and she wrote poems about those losses. She had smallpox as a young woman, and she expressed that time in life.
  • In two poems written about her husband, I learned she was extravagant and passionate in her love for him. She was proud of him. Thankful. She considered them to be one flesh.
  • She wrote poems about youth, middle age, and being older.
  • She was an amazing woman for her times.

It is cliché to believe Puritans were all one particular type person. Just as it is cliché to believe all Baptists are the same or all Catholics are the same. Stereotypes are branded on people and it’s hard to remove that. It is a stereotype for Puritans to be Pharisaic and bland. Anne Bradstreet’s poetry changes this. She had passion for her husband and told him so. She told the people who read her poetry that her “love is such that rivers cannot quench.” 

My favorite poems are “Middle Age,” “Contemplations,” “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” “New England,” and poems written after the death of her grandchildren. 

Favorite lines from “Contemplations.” 

2nd stanza
I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below, 
How excellent is He that dwells on high,
Whose power and beauty by his works we know?
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light, 
That hath this under world so richly dight;
More heaven than earth was here, no winter and no night. 

20th stanza
Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth
Because their beauty and their strength last longer?
Shall I wish there, or never to had birth, 
Because they’re bigger, and their bodies stronger?
Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade and die,
And when unmade, so ever shall they lie,
But man was made for endless immortality.

32nd stanza 
So he that saileth in this world of pleasure,
Feeding on sweets, that never bit of th’ sour,
That’s full of friends, of honour, and of treasure, 
Fond fool, he takes this earth ev’n for heav’n’s bower.
But sad affliction comes and makes him see
Here’s neither honour, wealth, nor safety;
Only above is found all with security. 

(Review) Robert Frost’s Poems

Robert Frost's Poems

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. 2002.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Poetry readers.
Rating: Very good.

The poems in the book are from two books: Complete Poems of Robert Frost and In The Clearing.


The introduction is written by Louis Untermeyer.
117 poems are included in the book.
Chapter headings:
“The Code And Other Stories”
“The Hired Man And Other People”
“Stopping By Woods And Other Places”
“The Runaway And Other Animals”
“Country Things And Other Things”

When I write a review on poetry I feel ill-prepared. Poetry requires a different sort of “eye” to read and review on what’s read.
Back in college when a book or poem was read, the teacher dissected the reading material to the point I’d loose interest. What I mean is the teacher would go on and on about what the material meant. I believe poems are intimate. They are deeply personal both to the author and reader.

One of my favorite poems is “My November Guest.”

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Is Frost talking about November or is he comparing November to something else?
November is the month before the snow. It is before the dormant and cold landscape of winter. Birds have left or most of them. The outside world seems dreary, brown or grey, and fading.
If I look at November as being a stage in life, November compares to the time period of older years. Those years when the end of life is getting closer but not quite there. Not as many “birds” or people come around. Some of them are probably dead, or sick, or old themselves. The outward body does fade. Pleasure can be difficult to find. Grey is the common head covering.
I love this poem. I’m not in the November years, but I can relate. The older I get the more I can relate to many things.