Monday, April 30, 2018

#CoverCliche: In Secret Kept, In Silence Sealed

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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Willow Madison and her friends Copper and Audrey taught school in neighboring Texas towns until the Yankees rode in and burned them out. In the midst of fear and chaos, survivors banded together to fight for what remained of their homes. Then word reached the people that the terrible war was over.

Now penniless but still hopeful, Willow vows she will take care of her friends, and her ailing uncle, in Thunder Ridge, Texas, even if it means having to marry wealthy Silas Sterling, a man thirty years her senior. But standing in her way is sawmill owner Tucker Gray, with his enticing eyes and infuriating headstrong manner—the man Willow cannot get out of her head . . . or her heart. Even though her friends beg her not to give up her dream of happiness, Willow is determined to do the right thing for those who are dearest to her. But which path does God want Willow to take: a life of duty and commitment . . . or a life of everlasting love?

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder. 

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Monday, April 23, 2018

#CoverCliche: Celtic Queen

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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On the night of Guinevere’s birth, a wise woman declares a prophecy of doom for the child: She will be gwenhwyfar, the white shadow, destined to betray her king, and be herself betrayed. Years pass, and Guinevere becomes a great beauty, riding free across Northern Wales on her beloved horse. She is entranced by the tales of the valorous Arthur, a courageous warrior who seems to Guinevere no mere man, but a legend. Then she finds herself betrothed to that same famous king, a hero who commands her willing devotion. Just as his knights and all his subjects, she falls under Arthur’s spell.

At the side of King Arthur, Guinevere reigns strong and true. Yet she soon learns how the dark prophecy will reveal itself. She is unable to conceive. Arthur’s only true heir is Mordred, offspring of a cursed encounter with the witch Morgause. Now Guinevere must make a fateful choice: She decides to raise Mordred, teaching him to be a ruler and to honor Camelot. She will love him like a mother. Mordred will be her greatest joy–and the key to her ultimate downfall.

Return to a time of legend–the days of Guinevere and Arthur and the glory that was to become Camelot.


Forced to flee Ireland, Gracelin O’Malley boards a coffin ship bound for America, taking her young daughter with her on the arduous transatlantic voyage. In New York, Gracelin struggles to adapt to a strange new world and to the harsh realities of immigrant life in a city teeming with crime, corruption, and anti-Irish prejudice. As she tries to make a life for herself and her daughter, she reunites with her brother, Sean . . . and a man she thought she’d never see again. When her friendship with a runaway slave sweeps her into the volatile abolitionist movement, Gracelin gains entrée to the drawing rooms of the wealthy and powerful. Still, the injustice all around her threatens the future of those she loves, and once again, she must do the unthinkable.





The captivating story of Cot Daley, kidnapped in Galway and shipped to Barbados and sold as a slave. The survivor of a failed rebellion, in which black and Irish slaves have conspired to overthrow their masters, Cot Daley is called in for questioning. She agrees to give her account only as part of her life story, wanting to set the record straight for posterity. The tale of her amazing life unfolds: the journey to Barbados, the harrowing years of fieldwork on the sugarcane plantations, and her marriage to an African slave and rebel leader. Kate McCafferty brilliantly re-creates this little-known part of seventeenth-century history, when more than fifty thousand Irish were sold to the plantation owners of the Caribbean.



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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

#Wishlist: April 2018

Like many readers, my TBR grows faster than it shrinks. I find a subject that interests me and titles start piling up one right after the other. With so many bookmarked, I thought it'd be fun to sort through and feature five titles a month here at Flashlight Commentary. 

So in addition to being a book addict, I am also really into podcasts and one of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis is BookRiot's All the Books. Shocking right? A book junkie, who listens to a podcast about books? Who'd have guessed. 

The podcast has two episodes a week. The first features the week's new release and the second is dedicated to books that are not new, the latter of which, is which is where I drew inspiration for this month's wishlist. 

It's not unusual for me to feature backlist titles, but this month's selections were deliberately selected from the backlists of authors I absolutely love. Enjoy!

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A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

Sometimes Keeping Your Honor Means Breaking Your Word

The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper. John FitzGilbert is a man of honor and loyalty, sworn to royal service. When the old king dies, his successor rewards the handsome and ambitious John with castles and lands. But King Stephen has a tenuous hold on both his reign and his barons, and when jealous rivals at court seek to destroy John, he backs a woman's claim to the crown, sacrifices his marriage, and eventually is forced to make a gamble that is perhaps one step too far.

Rich with detail, masterful in its storytelling, "A Place Beyond Courage" is a tale of impossible gambles and the real meaning of honor.

"Picking up an Elizabeth Chadwick novel is like having a Bentley draw up at your door: you know you are in for a sumptouous ride."-"Daily Telegraph"

"The best writer of medieval fiction currently around."-Richard Lee, founder and publisher, "Historical Novel Society"

"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here."-"USA Today"
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Interregnum by S.J.A. Turney

The Empire has fallen. The Empire must rise
A historical fantasy tale of valour, honour, and determination against all odds

For twenty years civil war has torn the Empire apart; the Imperial line extinguished after the mad Emperor Quintus was burned in his palace, betrayed by his greatest general and oldest friend, Kiva Caerdin.

Against a background of war, decay and violence, men who once served in the proud Imperial army now fight as hands for hire, little but fodder for greedy lords fighting over the remnants of more glorious times.

Kiva’s memories of the Empire are reignited when fighting alongside a fearsome mercenary unit, the Grey Company. Forced to face a dark and shameful past, he struggles to put his life back together. To achieve redemption, he and his men must defeat an ancient, cunning and bitter rival. Only then can the Empire be unified and become reborn…

Set in a hugely imaginative and atmospheric world inspired by Roman history, Interregnum is the first novel in S.J.A. Turney’s epic Tales of the Empire series, and is perfect for readers of Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.
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The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

One powerful family holds a city, a faith, and a woman in its grasp—from the national bestselling author of Daughters of Rome and Mistress of Rome.

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.
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Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield 

The Ancient Roman public's hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian's passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in the Eastern Empire. Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan sect of warrior priestesses, refuses to accept her new status as a slave. Forced to fight for survival, her deadly combat skills win the adoration of the crowds, the respect of Balbus.

But Lysandra's Spartan pride also earns her powerful enemies: Sorina, Gladiatrix Prima and leader of the Barbarian faction, and the sadistic Numidian trainer, Nastasen. When plans are laid for the ultimate combat spectacle to honor the visit of the emperor's powerful new emissary, Lysandra must face her greatest and deadliest trial.

This is a thrilling first novel that combines fascinating historical detail with blistering action.
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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930—Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance—as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

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INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Monday, April 16, 2018

#CoverCliche: Stolen Kisses

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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The first retelling of the passionate, twelfth-century love story since the discovery of 113 lost love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard—the original Romeo and Juliet.

"While I sleep you never leave me, and after I wake I see you, as soon as I open my eyes, even before the light of day itself." —Abelard to Heloise

Among the young women of twelfth-century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Notre-Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance in this National Book Award Finalist. Keturah follows a legendary hart into the king's forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near. Little does she know that he is a young, handsome lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and thereby gain a reprieve but only for twenty-four hours. She must find her one true love within that time or all is lost. Keturah searches desperately while the village prepares for an unexpected visit from the king, and Keturah is thrus into a prominent role as mysterious happenings alarm her friends and neighbors. Lord Death's presence hovers over this all until Keturah confronts him one last time in the harrowing climax.

Love is for women who have choices. She has none.

In eleventh-century France on the eve of the First Crusade, Isabel de Vermandois becomes the wife of a man old enough to be her father. He is Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan. A hero of the Norman victory at Hastings and loyal counselor to successive English kings, Robert is not all Isabel had expected. Cruel and kind by contrast, he draws her into the decadent court of King Henry I. As Robert's secrets are unraveled, Isabel finds her heart divided. Her duties as a wife and mother compel her, but an undeniable attraction to the young William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, tempts her. In a kingdom where love holds no sway over marital relations, Isabel must choose where her loyalties and her heart lie.

Based on the life of a remarkable medieval woman forgotten by time, The Burning Candle is a story of duty and honor, love and betrayal.

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Monday, April 9, 2018

#CoverCliche: Lost in Thought

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys The Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the steelworkers. Battle lines are drawn between the steel mill owners and their immigrant laborers. As The Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role in reforming these conditions in their community, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

"This collection... escorts readers through historic Europe’s romantic settings in search of the perfect love story." --DESERET NEWS, Melissa DeMoux

In WAR OF HEARTS, Annette Lyon’s exciting novella, Anna, a journalist, is desperate to escape the magazine where Pete, her now-former boyfriend, also works. Heartbroken and still in love with him, Anna snags an assignment to cover the Winter War in Finland. She arrives at a snowy Finnish battlefront only to discover that Pete is already there—as her photographer. She’s determined to be professional about the situation until a battle breaks out in camp, putting her and Pete in harm’s way and putting their love to the test.

In bestselling regency romance author G.G. Vandagriff’s enchanting novella, THE EARL OF OAKSEY TAKES A WIFE, Melissa Burroughs is the new Countess of Oaksey. Her whirlwind romance and subsequent elopement was worth every divine moment, even if her parents did disapprove. When Melissa learns about her new husband’s apparently empty pockets, she wonders if the intimacy they’ve shared is only the ruse of a fortune-hunter. Melissa is devastated and determines to live a separate life from her new husband. But the Earl has other plans, which do not include staying away from his wife.

In Michele Paige Holmes’ charming story, GIFT OF LOVE, Ethan Mooreleigh knows he’ll never love another woman after the loss of his beloved wife. Yet he needs a male heir to inherit his vast fortune. Ethan’s best friend, Stuart, has an idea and retrieves his sister, Amelia, who has been living in a convent since the tragic death of her parents. Amelia only agrees to enter into the contract marriage because there’s a child involved, Ethan’s neglected three-year-old daughter. When Amelia meets Ethan for the first time at the altar, she realizes that the last thing she wants her marriage to be is loveless. But winning a man whose heart is still broken may be impossible.

A LESSON IN LOVE, a delightful novella by bestselling regency romance author Sarah M. Eden, captures the uncertainties of newlywed life. Lucy Stanthorpe arrives for the London Season, planning to attend every ball and musicale with her new husband, Reed, only to discover he has no intention of taking part in the social whirl. Spurred on by their family and friends, Lucy and Reed each formulate increasingly outlandish plans to teach the other a lesson in appreciation. Their battle of wills threatens to pull the young couple apart unless they can both soften their stubborn hearts.

In AN OCEAN AWAY, Heather B. Moore’s captivating story, Gina Graydon knows the last thing she’ll attract on her holiday in France is an eligible bachelor. Tall, outspoken, and with a weakness for laughing at the wrong moment, not to mention being much too occupied with reading gothic romances, Gina decides she’d rather live in her fictional world. Besides, the only man who pays attention to her at the resort hotel happens to be her father’s worst enemy. And that is far from romantic. Reading in a secluded garden, and dreaming about the perfect kiss, all keep Gina much too busy to consider Mr. Edmund Donaldson any sort of hero.

Nancy Campbell Allen’s entrancing regency romance novella, WHAT HAPPENS IN VENICE, follows Evangeline Stuart as she determines to enjoy her vacation in Venice—her first and likely her last since she lives under the strict confines of her step-father’s control. When she meets the mysterious and romantic Conte Bellini, who happens to be Italy’s most eligible bachelor, she decides he is all part of the dream of visiting Venice. It’s impossible for her to believe that his interest in her is anything more than kindness to a foreign visitor. But when he discovers the true betrayal of her step-father, Evangeline learns the Conte may be the one person with the power to restore her happiness.

Return to a Jazz Age tale of grand adventure by New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

“Raybourn skillfully balances humor and earnest, deadly drama, creating well-drawn characters and a rich setting.” —Publishers Weekly on Dark Road to Darjeeling

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Monday, April 2, 2018

#CoverCliche: Across the Lonesome Prairie

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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Follow the paths of Sarah and Will (or Sam) as they tell their stories of trust, secrets, and betrayal on the frontier in the old West. Their pioneer spirit helped to fuel the expansion into the Western territories of the United States. The two are historically on their separate journeys, yet they remain intimately connected.

In 1878, Will is on the run after killing a man in a barroom gunfight. He escapes the Texas Rangers by joining a cattle drive as a cook headed to Dodge City. He struggles with the dilemma of saving his life or attempting to return to his pregnant wife and five children. Just when he thinks he might be able to return home, he is confronted by a bounty hunter who captures him and plans to return him to Fort Worth, Texas to be hanged.

Although Will changes his name to Sam, he remains an irresponsible, lonely and untrustworthy man on the dodge from the law who abandons the women he loves. He ultimately seeks redemption and marries Sarah.

In 1911, Sarah, a pioneer woman, and a widow with five children, struggles to find the inner strength to overcome betrayal, loneliness, fears, and self-doubt. Her husband, Sam, thirty years her senior, died with a mysterious and defiant declaration, "I won't answer!." Despite poverty and a crippling illness, she draws on her pioneer spirit to hold her family together and return to Nebraska to be near her parents and siblings.

When Sarah returns to Nebraska she receives staggering news which complicates her efforts to support her children. She is shocked, angry and emotionally devastated. Since she is attempting to establish herself in the community as a teacher, she believes she must keep her secret even from her own family. Will Sarah find forgiveness in her heart and the resolve to accept her new life alone?




One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.




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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know.