I received another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Miss Tammy! Here is her review:
I’m proud to present another review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Feel free to share your thoughts!
When it comes to war (no matter the era), men tend to gravitate toward the bloody bodies and the weaponry, and while some women think the idea of war as romantic, others are horrified at the cruelty. I’ve never seen war as romantic, anything to be proud of, or even remotely good, and parts of JDR Hawkins book was difficult for me to read. That being said, A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a very good story, well written with extremely engaging characters. The historical aspect is excellent and once I could get my head wrapped around the war and violence, I found this Southern family very engaging. I’m very interested in learning where the next book in Hawkins’ series will take us.
I received another great review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Here is the review:
A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a historical fiction novel set during the American Civil War. Not being from the States, I have bare bones knowledge of this event in history so I found the author’s detailed telling of events and way of life during this time to be very interesting. The book provides both historical facts and a look at the conditions that both the soldiers and the citizens lived in during the Civil War. I found that some of the facts became rather dry and dragged the story down, although I do realize that they are essential to the story. For the most part, the story is told from the side of the Confederates. I’ve really only ever read information from the other side so I found it very interesting to read the alternate viewpoint. I can’t say I have changed my mind about which side I would have supported during the war but it did open my eyes as to why the Confederates felt the way they did. I found the pace of the book quite slow and I struggled to stay interested but for anyone who is a Civil War buff, this book would make for some entertaining reading. The characters are well developed and realistically written. I enjoyed the variety of personalities in the book, such as David who just wants to be like his dad and fight, and his dad, tough as nails even in horrible conditions. It can be difficult to have a lot of characters and make each one a worthwhile part of a book but the author manages to do this well throughout the whole story. For me, the pace was a bit slow but I realize the author had to do this in order to keep the realism of the story. Sometimes action sequences have to be sacrificed. Overall, I did learn a lot from this book, even with it being fiction, and I will look for more books by this author.
Here’s another review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, that I would like to share with you.
The novel is presented as a prequel to the author’s first novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. For someone who has not read it yet, it will be a very interesting story after the prequel. For someone who has read it will be still more interesting to know what lead to it all.
The style is fast paced and exciting but sometimes the descriptive paragraphs about the battle become long-winding. The characters are very well formed and come out as very real three dimensional people with a gamut of feelings and expressions. Especially likable is the chemistry between Hiram and Caroline and their unflinching trust and understanding. The plot is well knit and one incident flows into another.
A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the dream of bravery, adventure gallantry and Chivalry, pulls David to enlist, and remains intact for him till the end when the children are waiting for Hiram to return home on Christmas.
I recently received another positive review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. The review is as follows:
In exactly two weeks, it will be Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the first book in the Renegade Series. This glance into the past shows what a war-torn country was like in December, 1861.
The day of Callie’s Christmas party arrived. Rena and Josie had primped for a week, repeatedly trying on the five dresses they owned between them, until they finally came to a decision. David didn’t give it much thought, since Callie’s charms had worn off with time, but he did carve a beautiful broach for her.
They reached the Copeland’s as dusk was setting in. It was an unseasonably warm evening, and Caroline remarked about how the weather seemed to be cooperating with the party. Pulling into the yard, they saw several other carriages and wagons parked outside. David directed Joe Boy to an open area. He jumped down, tied the draft horse to a shrub, greeted Percy, who was tending the horses, and after assisting his mother and sisters down from the wagon, he escorted them up the steps to the house. The stylings of festive violin music floated through the air. Caroline tapped on the door. Momentarily, Mr. Copeland answered, dressed in a waistcoat with matching black trousers.
“Why, there y’all are!” he greeted them happily. “Please do come in!”
Extending his hand to David, the two shook and followed the ladies into the parlor, which was aglow with glittering lights. Candles flickered on brass candlesticks, reflecting off blown-glass decorations that adorned an enormous pine Christmas tree regally standing in a corner. The women were attired in festive, colorful dresses, and the men wore fine suits. David thought the entire sparkling room was enchanting.
Josie and Rena saw some friends, so they went off to mingle. Mr. Copeland took Caroline’s arm and led her over to his wife, leaving David awkwardly alone. He gazed around for a familiar face, and finally found one. Jake ambled across the room in his direction, with Callie on his arm. She was radiant in a shimmering, bronze-colored, hooped gown. Her golden hair was drawn up and confined within a snood that matched the hue of her dress. Jake appeared similarly attractive in his best suit.
“Glad to see you could make it!” he exclaimed, giving his friend a playful punch on the arm.
“Y’all knew we couldn’t miss this.”
“Well, I should certainly hope not!” exclaimed Callie. “Everyone knows mine is the most extravagant party in the county this season. And we have cause for celebration, this bein’ the first yuletide since the start of the war.” Releasing Jake, she clamped onto David. “Jake, would you be a darlin’ and go fetch me some punch?”
“It would be my pleasure, Miss Callie,” he said with a smile. Giving David a wink, he strolled off into the crowd.
“Now, Mr. Summers, if you please, I would like you to come with me,” she said, giving his arm a tug, so he obediently followed along like a puppy.
The violinist, joined by a pianist, delved into a tender rendition of “Silent Night.” Callie stopped momentarily to listen, so David took his opportunity.
“Miss Callie, I made you a token,” he bashfully admitted. Withdrawing a small wrapped package from his pocket, he handed it to her.
“Well, I do declare! David, darlin’, you shouldn’t have!” She tore open the wrapping and pried open the box, revealing the broach he had painstakingly carved for her. “Why, it’s absolutely breathtakin’.” She pinned it onto the front of her gown. “I shall wear it always.”
Taking his hand, she leaned over to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek, barely missing his mouth.
He shied away, embarrassed. Clearing his throat while his face flushed, he muttered, “What did you want to show me, Miss Callie?”
“I would like to present you to some friends who are out back.”
He followed her to the garden, but immediately wished he hadn’t, for as soon as they were outside, he saw several faces he recognized.
“David, you know Owen Ridgeway, and his brother, Lemuel.”
“Hey, Summers,” said Lemuel in a friendly manner, but his older brother only glared.
“Hey, y’all,” David responded genially, for Callie’s sake.
Jake arrived, and handed Callie a glass filled with sparkling red fluid. Seeing the tension, he said, “Zeke, go on in and git yourself some punch.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, taking his chance to escape the scene. He knew Callie was unaware of the conflict, but he was riled, and he didn’t wish to spoil her party, so he went inside to the food table.
The spread temporarily distracted him from a possible confrontation. Ham, turkey, stuffing, cornbread, pickles, garden vegetables, bread pudding, and assorted pies were displayed on gold leaf china. His mouth watered as he absorbed the sight.
Rena appeared beside him. “Are you enjoyin’ yourself?” she asked, taking a plate.
“I was, till Callie took me outside. That scoundrel Owen Ridgeway is here.”
“Yeah, and so is his brother. I don’t have a quarrel with him, though.”
“Jist avoid him, David,” she advised.
He looked over to see the seriousness in her gaze. “I’ll be on my best behavior for Ma’s sake, but if he tries to make a fuss, well …”
“Jist don’t.” Rena glared insistently at him before moving on.
Once he had filled his plate, he walked across the kitchen, sat at the table, and began eating. Soon, several guests joined him, and struck up a conversation about his father. Isabelle scurried about to accommodate the partygoers, as did the Copeland’s five slaves, and a few others the neighbors had brought along to help support them.
After lingering for half an hour, David excused himself. He walked into the parlor, where he saw Jake and Callie talking to Alice Walker, so he joined them.
“Oh, David, Miss Alice has jist informed us of the most dreadful news!” Callie leaned against Jake for support.
“What is it, Miss Alice?” he asked.
“We’re movin’ to California,” she announced. A broad smile spread across her young porcelain-like face.
“Californee is a right far piece away!” Jake exclaimed with a chuckle.
She nodded. “My pa has an uncle out that way who struck it rich, so we’re fixin’ to go next year sometime. Perhaps after spring thaw.”
David smirked through a flash of jealousy. “I wish I could go out to Californee and strike it rich,” he muttered.
Callie smiled at him. “Perhaps we can all go out for a visit later on,” she suggested hopefully. Turning toward the wall, she decided to change the subject. “David, have you seen the paintin’ my ma jist acquired?”
“No.” He drew closer to have a look.
“Pa bought it for her for Christmas. Ain’t it magnificent?”
“It surely is.” He gazed at the landscape, noticing how the bluish-purple colors of twilight were accurately represented.
“My ma says that it’s right fittin’ and all. She says that this paintin’, Twilight, symbolizes the transitions we’ve all been goin’ through—the new Confederacy and two new presidents, talk of freein’ the slaves, and the country splittin’ in two. It’s like the dawnin’ of a new day.”
David stared at the painting, reading her description into the swirls left by the artist’s brushstrokes, and reckoned she was right.
Mrs. Copeland’s high-pitched voice cut through the din. “May I have your attention, please?”
Callie’s father tapped on a crystal champagne glass with a piece of silverware, causing it to ring out. The participants grew quiet.
“We would like for all of our guests to please assemble out back in the garden!” she exclaimed, and motioned invitingly, so the partygoers followed her.
As David walked outside, he noticed the entire backyard had been redecorated. Paper lanterns strung across the length of the yard illuminated the setting, and musicians were gathered on a platform near the back. The violinist had transformed himself into a fiddle player. He was joined by a banjo player and a percussionist, who sat poised atop a stool with spoons in his hand.
“For our first song,” the banjo player announced, “we’re playin’ a fine tune by Stephen Foster, called ‘O Lemuel.’”
Owen guffawed at the reference, jabbing his little brother with his elbow. The music started, and the crowd coupled up. Walking out into the center of the straw-covered yard, they began swirling to the music. The chill in the air seemed to dissipate as the dancers moved in synchronized harmony across the makeshift dance floor.
David watched while a schoolmate, Thomas Halsey, escorted Rena. Jake and Callie took to the floor, as did their parents, even though Mr. Kimball’s injured leg prevented him from dancing with much elegance. Like he usually did at gatherings such as these, David partnered with his mother and younger sister, dancing to the lively melodies of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Jim along Josie.” He danced with Alice, and once, timidly, with Callie, who complimented him on his stylish grace. When the music changed to a waltz, she stated that she thought he would easily fit into high society with his fancy footwork.
After the musicians took a break, he strolled into the house for refreshment. Owen followed, confronting him in the kitchen.
“Think you’re quite the rooster, don’t you? Dancin’ with every gal at the party.” He stared provokingly with penetrating green eyes, his blond hair tussled atop his head.
David whirled around to face him. Owen had always been a showoff, and was constantly teasing him because he was left-handed, and trying to outdo him at every opportunity.
“That ain’t none of your concern. Savvy?”
Owen snorted. “You’re worthless. You ain’t nothin’ but a weasel. All you can do is hide behind them skirts!”
Rena entered to see her brother bristle at his adversary. “David …” she warned.
“Not now, Rena,” he growled back.
“Recall what we discussed.” She could see from across the room that her brother’s eyes were darkening from hazel to brown, which to her was a bad indication.
“I want to have a word with you out on the veranda, Ridgeway,” David stated.
He tromped off through the house. Owen grinned, traipsing behind. David heard his mother’s voice as she entered the kitchen.
“What’s goin’ on in here?” she asked.
“Dere’s ‘bout to be trouble out front, Miss Caroline,” Isabelle explained as she gathered a trayful of dirty dishes.
“It’s Owen Ridgeway again, Ma,” added Josie.
Caroline growled, “I’ll put a stop to this.”
“No, Mrs. Summers,” Jake intercepted. “Allow me.” He sauntered through the house as voices outside escalated, and went outside to see David and Owen glaring intensely while throwing verbal spears at each other.
“I know it was you who killed my dog last winter!” David roared. “You did it jist to spite me, because you were jealous!”
“Why would I be jealous of you?” Owen mocked a laugh.
“Because I’m smarter than you, and you know it.”
“You cheated on those school exams so you could graduate! You lied about your pa fightin’ at Manassas, too! You’re spoiled and soft!”
“I’ll have you take that back!”
“Now, boys,” Jake interrupted, “there ain’t no need for—”
Suddenly, Owen lurched at David, who threw a punch into his attacker’s face. They were immediately wrestling on the veranda, tumbling over each other while grunting, cursing, and yelling. Members of the party dashed outside, alarmed by the commotion. Jake managed to break the two apart, and held his friend’s arms behind his back. Lemuel seized his brother in the same manner. The two opponents snorted like bulls, their faces red with vehemence. A trail of scarlet blood trickled from Owen’s nose.
“Take it easy!” Jake hollered.
Mr. Copeland stepped in. “What is the meaning of this?! I will not have you two behave this way at my gatherin’!” He stomped over to Owen and took him by the ear. “I’m throwin’ you out, young man! You’re no longer welcome here!” Leading Owen to the steps, he thrust him toward the yard. Lemuel meekly scurried after his brother. “Off with you now, and don’t come back!”
The brothers staggered toward their wagon, climbed in, and rode off down the lane.
Turning toward David, who was panting to catch his breath, Mr. Copeland sighed. “David, I thought better of you than this.” He walked past him and went inside.
The words stung more than any expulsion could. Frowning, he looked at his startled family, at Jake, who simpered at him, and at Callie, who scowled at him. He knew what he had done, although it was unintentional, and he felt deeply ashamed. He had ruined Callie’s Christmas party.
Soon, the family decided it was best to leave. Barely speaking to each other, they returned home and retired to their bedchambers. The next morning, on their way back from church, Josie broke the silence.
“How come Owen Ridgeway don’t like you?” she asked straightforwardly.
David shrugged. “He never has, and I don’t cotton to him, neither.”
She chuckled faintly. “I reckon you would if he was nice to you.”
He shrugged again. It was a situation he assumed he would likely never know.
This is banned book week, when libraries, bookstores, and all things literary celebrate the tomes that have been banned throughout the years for various reasons. It is interesting to see what books made the list. But the amazing part is that they were even banned in the first place, especially here in the states, where freedom of speech and expression are supposedly within our constitutional rights.
My favorite banned book is Gone With the Wind. I absolutely adore this novel. I always thought it was so amazing that Margaret Mitchell published her book in 1936, and it immediately became a bestseller. Only a few years later, in 1939, it became a phenomenal film that won eight Academy Awards, one of which was awarded to an African-American person for the first time, Ms. Hattie McDaniel, for Best Supporting Actress. The movie also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing, as well as two honorary awards for its use of equipment and color. It was the first color film to win Best Picture.
I have to admit that, since I wrote my novels, the tide of Confederate sentiment has turned. It is quite strange and disturbing, but nevertheless, it has happened. I certainly hope my books don’t make the banned book list because of it, but if they do, they’re in good company.
Today and tomorrow mark the 156th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas. I have always found it strangely interesting how this battle took place on the same ground where the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) took place. Soldiers found old skeletons buried in shallow graves at the battlefield that were left there from a year before. Virginia is unique in that many Civil War battlefields overlap each other. Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Yellow Tavern, Brandy Station, and Antietam are all very close in proximity. It must have been weird to have lived in Virginia and Maryland during that time and have so many tragic battles take place within just a few miles of each other. Richmond and Washington D.C., the two capitals, were also close together. And yet, an entire country was involved in the war. What a sad, strange time it must have been.
My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describes this battle. The book delves into the first half of the War Between the States from the Southern point of view, and specifically portrays the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. This book is based on actual testimony that was recorded by a soldier who witnessed the battles. The 4th Alabama was one of only a few regiments who survived until the end of the war.