Book Review: Sisters Of Shiloh

Some years ago, I bought a used hardback copy of this book. It is set during the American Civil War, a period that interests me. I decided to keep it in the car, something to read when waiting for things. Things like hospital appointments, a wife on a shopping trip, or being too early when arriving at the Doctor or the Vet.

It took some time to get even one third of the book read in that way. Not that there was anything bad about it, I just wanted to keep it handy in the car. Last week, a four-hour wait for my brakes to be replaced on the car provided the perfect opportunity, and I finally finished reading it.

This is the story of two sisters, as the title suggests. Beginning with their teenage years in Virginia, we see the younger sister Libby fall in love with Arden, much to the annoyance of Josephine, who doesn’t like the man at all, and is going to miss her now married sister. One month after the wedding, the civil war begins, and Arden joins the Confederate Army, assigned to Stonewall Jackson’s brigade.

As the fighting intensifies, they hear of a battle in nearby Maryland. Jackson’s brigade has been involved, and the talk is the fighting was bad, with heavy casualties. The sisters travel to Sharpsburg, (also known as the Battle of Antietam) the scene of the battle. On the grisly battlefield, Josephine fnds Arden terribly wounded, and by the time Libby joins her, he has died. In a rage, Libby cuts off her hair, and vows to join the army, to kill Yankees in revenge for her husbands death.

Fearing for her sister’s safety, Josephine does the same, and they volunteer for Jackson’s brigade, pretending to be young boys who are cousins. They call themselves Thomas and Joseph, and are readily accepted as recruits, due to the need to replace all those recently killed in battle.
(This may sound like a stretch, but it is worth noting that there are many contemporary examples of this happening, on both sides.)

The writing excels in the small details. The problems the girls face in concealing their gender from the rest of the troops in their unit. The harsh weather conditions of extreme heat and cold, with poorly-clothed and underfed soldiers having to undertake long marches then go straight into battle. The day-to-day routine and boredom of life in camp between campaigns, followed by the edge of the seat tension as the sisters find themselves on the firing line in the midst of some of the biggest battles of the civil war.

Along the way, one sister finds love, the other still searches for revenge and peace of mind. They argue, they make up again, and most of all, they display that unbreakable bond of family love, and specifically the unselfish love between the sisters Libby and Josephine that sees them through the worst times imaginable.

This is more than a war story, and much more than a love story. It is a great read, and highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction.

Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle

I am delighted to host a guest post from author, blogger, and cake-maker extraordinaire, Roberta Cheadle. This is an interesting historical account, connected to the same time period as her latest novel.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

The story of Jurgens Nieman (10 December 1898 – 27 July 1900)

During the second phase of the Second Anglo Boer War, hundreds of Boer women fled into the veld to evade the British forces. The took their children, trusted native African workers and some livestock with them. This was an attempt to escape capture and imprisonment in concentration camps.

Jurgen’s Albertus Nieman was born on the 10th of December 1989, the son of a Boer scout also named Jurgens Albertus Nieman who was never wounded or captured throughout the war. Jurgens Senior and his 14-year-old son Jacobus Johannes fled the siege at Paardeberg under General Cronje on a young horse which had neither a saddle nor a bridle.
Jurgens’ Senior’s wife, Anna Elizabeth, had been left on their farm. When the British troops neared their home, she fled with her four young children in a horse-drawn cart, together with a small flock of sheep and a single trusted native African herdsman.

On the 26th of July 1900, Anna Elizabeth and her children were caught. The British soldiers loaded them into an open ox-wagon to be transported to the Klerksdorp Concentration Camp. During the day, other families were captured and joined the wagon train.

The following morning, Anna Elizabeth and the children walked over to another ox-wagon to meet a new family. Jurgens suddenly began to fidget and fuss. When his mother picked him up to comfort him, blood trickled onto her hands from a head wound.

On inspection, she found that her son had been shot in the head. English fire was taking place in the distance, and Jurgens was struck by a stray bullet. The baby died that evening and was buried in a shallow grave at the side of the road. A plank detailing his name and other details was planted at the site of the grave.
Fourteen days later, his father passed the grave. He found his son’s body almost perfectly preserved due to the cold weather. He took the casket with him and re-buried it at Rustfontein farm.

This is the bonnet that Jurgens Nieman was wearing when he was shot. The bloodstains are still visible. At this time, baby boys were often dressed in bonnets and dresses.

A Ghost and His Gold, a paranormal historical novel partially set during the Second Anglo Boer War, written by Roberta Eaton Cheadle describes similar tragic deaths of young children.

This is a short extract:
“A few moments later, Annette Smit enters the tent with her children, who’ve been waiting patiently for her outside the tent. She lies the dead body of her baby down on a blanket. Dropping into a seated position on the hard ground, she sits, rocking herself to and fro, and keening softly.
Her worn and seemingly bloodless body is that of an old woman and the large eyes in her white face are wild and haunted. The death of her infant on top of the recent losses of her oldest son and toddler seem to have broken something deep within her mind. It is frightening to watch.
Hatred for the camp supervisor who denied the baby a few drops of brandy constricts Estelle’s throat. The baby is dead. She’ll never take her first steps, laugh and play with her older brothers and sisters or go to school. The camp supervisor did nothing to try and save her. In Estelle’s mind, he is a murderer. Taking deep breaths, Estelle attempts to unwind the knot of anger in her stomach
.
Marta looks at Annette, her eyes are sympathetic. “It’s better that the baby died,” she says. “She’s now at peace with our Father.”
Tannie [Aunt] Sannie’s eyes flash anger. “The camp supervisor could have tried to help! Surely he could have found a few drops of brandy for Annette’s baby somewhere.”
“That is true, Sannie, but God expects you to forgive him. He’ll not forgive our individual sins if we bear grudges against someone else. Worse yet, such feelings, if not repented, could cause Him to turn away from our people and our cause.””

A Ghost and His Gold
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at:
Website
https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/
Blog
https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle
Twitter

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Amazon

Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s books
TSL Books (paperback)
https://tslbooks.uk/product-tag/roberta-eaton-cheadle/
Lulu.com (ebook)
A Ghost and His Gold: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/robert-eaton-cheadle/a-ghost-and-his-gold/ebook/product-d858km.html?page=1&pageSize=4
Through the Nethergate: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/roberta-eaton-cheadle/through-the-nethergate/ebook/product-1qkz92jq.html?page=1&pageSize=4
Amazon US

Robbie is a fully-engaged blogger, and a valued part of our wider blogging community. She also writes in many different genres and themes, with something that will appeal to everyone. Please follow the links to find out more about her, read her posts, and perhaps buy some of her books too.

Book Review: His Ladyship by Stevie Turner

A fellow blogger and published author, Stevie Turner has published many books and novellas in different genres.
https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

I recently bought a Kindle copy of her latest novel, ‘His Ladyship’, and read it in two sessions.
This will be my 5-star review on Amazon.

***No spoilers***

This is the story of Norman, growing up feeling he is misgendered as part of a family where such things are neither tolerated, nor discussed. The family dynamic is established early on, with Norman being spoilt as the youngest, and having a difficult relationship with his older siblings. This becomes worse when he starts to openly question his sexual identitiy, which is met with a mixture of disappointment and scorn.

His reaction is to withdraw. He stops going to school, then never bothers to find a job. To the outrage of his brothers and sisters, he is mollycoddled by a widowed mother determined to do everything for him. And he lets her. Growing older, and becoming very fat, he spends all of his time in his bedroom, acting out his fantasy of being a woman. Wanting to become Norma, instead of Norman.

In this book we follow his journey to that transition, right up to date with the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Despite some detailed medical information, there is nothing overtly sexual or salacious in this book.

From the start, Norman is very much an unsympathetic character. He is hard to like, selfish, uncaring, and shows little regard for his mother as she grows old, wearing herself out caring for him. When his siblings arrive to berate him for his behaviour, their mother defends him, and Norman locks himself away in his room, refusing to face any criticism.

Once he begins to cross-dress, to stick by his determination to be called Norma, and seek gender reassignment surgery, he has to deal with the lack of understanding from his confused mother, and outright hostility and humiliation from some family members. But that very determination changing Norman into Norma also alters his personality, making him kinder, and allowing him to break free of his room into the outside world.

The world he chooses to explore is the London LGBTQ scene, where he is startled to find acceptance, friendship, and eventually, a temporary job. From this point on, Norma begins to finally grow up, despite already being in her late fifties.

This is a story exploring one person’s difficult experience to be accepted for what she has always believed she was. Facing counselling, painful surgery, and long years of waiting.

I finished the book really liking Norma, and rooting for her to find peace and happiness.

‘His Ladyship’ is Now Available for Pre-Order.

Get Stevie’s new book for just 99p! Pre-order now, using the link on her post.

Stevie Turner

My new LGBT novel, ‘His Ladyship‘, reached the Longlist of the 2021 Page Turner Awards and is now available for pre-order at the special price of just £0.99 /$0.99 until October 24th, when the price will rise to £1.99/$2.99:

You can find ‘His Ladyship’ here. Thanks to Phil Huston for the edits and Teagan Geneviene for the cover.

Norman Wicks is 57, overweight, and has diabetes. He is sick of his life. He has never left home, had a girlfriend, or held down any kind of job. The only friends he has are online, as he prefers to stay in the comfort zone of his bedroom. His devoted 92 year old mother Agnes waits on him hand and foot.

Norman has a secret he has kept hidden from the world for the majority of his life, but now he is desperate to bring it out into the…

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Free Book Just for Today

Hurry! Get your free copy of Stevie’s book. One day only! And please don’t forget to give it a fair review after reading.

Stevie Turner

My family drama ‘Barren‘ is free just for today. It was published in October 2020 and so far has one 5 star rating:

Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.

As always, if you enjoy reading it, please consider leaving a review.

Apart from the usual blog hop on Monday, I’ll be winding down on writing blogs next week. We’ll be…

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Blogtour: A Fear Of Heights by Tallis Steelyard

Today I have the opportunity to feature the new book from Jim Webster. The latest adventure from Tallis Steelyard in Port Naain.

‘A Fear Of Heights’.

And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes the rumours are true.
Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes
to be ridiculously hard work, and considered the novella form to be the very
pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner,
we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the
Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.
Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis
end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for
Maljie?
This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts,
Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced
food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a
theologically sanctioned beggar.

Available both for kindle and in Paperback.

Here is the story that accompanies this blog tour.

Quiet and restrained.

Had I not been there I might not have believed it, but I was there so I do.
Maljie, sounding entirely sensible, commented that now some of the better
grocers and provisions merchants were delivering into her part of the city,
it no longer made sense to go into the market to do one’s own shopping. It
must be mentioned, if only in passing, that she never in point of fact
intimated that it was because she was growing old or any nonsense like that.
It was just so much more sensible and convenient. Especially when we were at
that time of year when there is often so much illness about.
So every week she or Margarita would send a mendicant with their order, and
every week the cart would pull up outside their house and deliver. It was
all most civilised and the system is becoming more popular generally,
especially amongst those of a certain age.
Obviously I have many patrons who will do something similar. They will have
their maid do the shopping. Cook will give the maid the order and the young
woman will go out and purchase the appropriate items. If the order is large,
they may send a footman or gardener with her. If it is very large, the
assumption is that the emporium will deliver. Other household items are
dealt with in much the same manner. The housekeeper will send a maid out to
purchase black lead, spare collars, soap, buttons and a couple more dickeys
for the lady’s husband. Indeed the only thing Madam will purchase in person
are her own clothes.
The advantage of the system my patrons use is that the maids who do this job
are both experienced and motivated. Those who do the deliveries for various
emporia often lack both qualities.
A friend of mine called Cragan has in the past been employed to do the job
delivering. In all honesty he didn’t enjoy it. Firstly there are the lists
provided by the customer. The shopkeeper will give the list to the most
junior member of staff. This person will go round the shop and the warehouse
at the back to put the order together. If the list is clearly written, and
the junior employee confident in their literacy, this system can work well.
Even ignoring misspellings and hand writing, (caster sugar and castor oil
should not be easily confused) there are the times when one runs headlong
into the sink of ignorance which is the natural state of being of some of
the juniors Cragan was forced to work with. It was he who was forced to
explain to a customer why the individual who had packed the boxes had
substituted female sanitary products for the crème brûlée she had ordered.
But even if the junior employee is assiduous, efficient, and well-motivated,
(an apparently rare combination) the best you can hope for is that they will
send you what you have put on the list.
One of the best juniors Cragan has ever worked with pulled him to one side
and commented that the customer had wanted one sack of porridge oats. The
sacks they sold were so heavy that Cragan could just about lift them, with
care. On the other hand the shop did have smaller bags such as you could
hold in one hand. Did Cragan have any idea which his customer might prefer?
Cragan remembered that she was a widow woman, living alone. He took the
small bag, only to be sent away with a flea in her ear as she had been
buying the porridge oats for her son, who was responsible for providing
breakfast for a score of workmen engaged in clearing away the fire damaged
ruins of a house nearby.
But perhaps the biggest disadvantage of this system is that you never spot
the real bargains. For example, Maggin’s will regularly get in some Colbig
wheels. Made in Colbig, a town far to the east across the mountains, deep in
barbaricum. These are cheeses a yard across and a two hand spans deep, but
they are initially made in thinner plates. With the ‘Traditional,’ the
bottom plate will be smeared with honey berries, then the middle plate
placed in top, again smeared with honey berries, and then the top plate put
on, the whole garnished with roasted and salted nuts, bound tightly in linen
and left to mature for a year or so. You can also purchase the “Black Seal”,
which is made in exactly the same manner but is matured for three years. The
‘White Seal’ is made without rind and is matured under nut oil for a full
five years.
Finally there is the “Demon’s Breath”, made with Devil’s Pomatum in place of
honey berries and fire nuts in place of the usual selection, then matured
for six months. Apparently attempts to get it mature for longer have
resulted in cases of spontaneous combustion.
I confess I rarely shop in Maggin’s. This is not because of any doubts as to
the quality. Maggins purchase only the best. Produce can travel considerable
distances to get there. But there is the matter of cost. To buy a Colbig
Wheel would cost me perhaps two or three month’s earnings. Yet I was walking
past as they were unloading a dray. Two young fools, racing their
Commendable Monocycles, went too close to the horses, spooking them. The
horses set off, showering cheeses the length of the street. I helped sort
out the mess and sweep up. Indeed I recognised the two injudicious
monocyclists as a pair who had caused chaos as they plunged through the
dancers of the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of
Chastity as the girls processed along Ropewalk in a terpsichorean fashion.
It took my cousin Thela nearly an hour to sort the girls out, disentangle
costumes, and generally restore hair and make-up. Thus I had no inhibitions
about mentioning their names to the manager. On the strength of that old
Maggin himself gave me a full Black Seal. A fair number of the other wheels
were put on sale at a substantial discount because the layers had split
apart due to the impact. There was a queue of buyers all that day.
But back to the point. One has to consider the carters who do the
deliveries. Cragan commented to me that in his father’s day it was a most
genteel trade. One would take out a cart load and would take all day
delivering. During this time you could find yourself drinking tea, putting
up shelves, or helping the maid move furniture into the spare room. Now, the
service has become fashionable and you are always rushing. You set off with
a full cart and have barely an hour to make the deliveries before they want
you back at the emporium for the next cart load. He commented that if ever
they organise chariot racing at the race course, the first generation of
charioteers will all have learned their trade driving the grocery delivery
carts.
Still, Maljie stuck with her sensible decision. In winter I could see how
the disadvantages were outweighed by the advantages. Indeed she behaved with
absolute decorum for several months, venturing out rarely and even then
acted in a sober and reserved manner as befits a lady of her maturity.
It was only recently that I chanced to meet Maljie and a number of her
friends in the street. I was alerted to the fact that something was
happening by the music I could hear. As I waited there was a procession of
fiddlers, bladder pipe players, and dancers. Leading the dancing was a
kimono clad Maljie. She and her collaborators had tankards filled with raw
spirit flavoured with juniper berries. As they danced down the street
towards me, Maljie waved her tankard in my direction. “Hello Tallis, it’s
spring.”

You can find out more about Tallis and his world by visiting the main blog.
https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/

Random Acts of Kindness Day + Free Book!

Kindness, and a FREE BOOK! If you get your free copy, don’t forget to give it a fair review after reading.

Stevie Turner

Did you know that Wednesday 17th February is ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’ in the UK? Even if you’re not in the UK you could spread some positivity today and make somebody smile, give a donation to charity, or you could even collect somebody’s medication who is self-isolating… the possibilities are endless.

I’ve already done my bit this morning. A woman I’ve often seen while walking around the village said hello as we approached each other from different directions. We started to chat, and in the end I had recommended my dentist to her as she was looking for a dentist who carries out sedation. She was overjoyed to have found just what she was looking for by stopping to pass the time of day with a relative stranger. She couldn’t thank me enough, and went on her way quite happily.

So… I’ll carry on with the kindness today. I…

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Blogger’s Books: Stevie Turner

I am very happy to feature the latest book from author and blogger Stevie Turner.

Here is her synopsis of the new novel.

Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.

‘Barren’ is released on the First of October, and is available to pre-order now. For the whole of that month, it is on offer at just 99p/99c.
It is also free on Kindle Unlimited.


For readers outside of the UK, here is the Amazon.com link.

Stevie is a very engaged member of our blogging community.
To find out more about her writing, or to visit her blog and social media pages, please follow the links below.

Website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevieTurner6

Blog: https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/stevieturner988/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Email: stevie@stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClWFuLQHDqGmOM3KbKJ-Z0g

Blogger’s Books: Jack Eason

I have featured Suffolk-based blogger and writer Jack Eason here before, with his excellent novel ‘Race Against Time’. Now I am happy to get the chance to promote his latest book, which is on sale for just 0.99p, and free for Kindle Unlimited users.

This is the synopsis.

A science-fiction story with a difference.

Apart from chronicling the ultimate change of life for a select few individuals, it questions all accepted ideas by closeminded academics that leave no room for alternative thinking by some among their number.

It is also about a woman born ten years after the Romans left Britannia forever and a man born in the twentieth century.

Add to that everything that is currently environmentally wrong with our planet today, and you have all the necessary ingredients for an enthralling tale.

You can find out more about Jack and his other books by following the links below. Please try to find time to support another one of the great writers in our community.

https://whizbuzz.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/the-magisters-jack-eason/
https://www.facebook.com/jack.eason.18?fref=ts

Here is a link to Jack’s blog, where you can find out more, and read his many interesting articles.
https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/