Genealogists and family historians, stop what you are doing right now and read this.
You absolutely must read the book In the Blood by Steve Robin...moreStop.
Genealogists and family historians, stop what you are doing right now and read this.
You absolutely must read the book In the Blood by Steve Robinson.
Take a break from your own research and see what happens when a very creative person's mind takes some genealogical ideas and fleshes out a story of intrigue, mystery, and murder. If I had been reading a paper copy, I'd call this one a page turner, but as it happens I was reading it on my new Nook Tablet, Valentina. [Yes, I name my gadgets. Makes it easier to curse at them when they don't work.]
I stayed up late to read it. I woke up early [in part because of my Pug, Millie] to read it. And I read when I should have been blogging. It was that good.
It was good to see characters I could relate to on a genealogical level. Mr. Robinson did not assume I was dumb and wouldn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. Through his characters he briefly explained in dialogue or in a action what was going on genealogy-wise, and I appreciated that immensely.
I read a lot, especially suspense murder mysteries, and I can truly say that In the Blood is on par with the best. Then add the genealogy part, and, well, this one is a winner.
Mr. Robinson weaves a multi-layered tale with the flawed protagonist, Jefferson Tayte, being pushed out of his comfort zone to search for the answer. Kinda like what we genealogists and family historians do every day. We research the past looking for answers about our ancestors and our ourselves.
Does Tayte find the answers? I dunno. You're gonna have to read it. All 877 pages of it. [Told you he fleshes it out.] (less)
I dare you to read the first sentence of Chapter 1 in the book In the Territory of Lies by authors Lois Stickell and Peg Robarchek and not buy the boo...moreI dare you to read the first sentence of Chapter 1 in the book In the Territory of Lies by authors Lois Stickell and Peg Robarchek and not buy the book.
Stickell and Robarchek got me on the hook with the first line, reeled me in with the first chapter, and before I even knew what happened, I was a dusty fish story by the end of their book. Seriously.
In the Territory of Lies, two women are ultimately brought together by genealogy, family history, and the internet. And, oh yeah. A family mystery to solve too.
Interestingly, the internet is the main setting for this book, but it's also a character in the book. And I would go so far as to say it's a literary device. [But only because I need to justify all that time and money to have that English degree hanging above me on my wall as I write this review. ;) ] This novel is uniquely written within emails and online message boards, and the 2 main characters are perfectly flawed as all good main characters should be.
When I began to read a sample of this novel sent to me by Peg Robarchek, one of the authors, I went from curious to laughing to oh-my-gosh-that's-not-so-funny-anymore by the end of the first chapter. I promptly emailed Ms. Robarchek back, and eagerly explained that I was going to buy it and review it, and she offered to send me a review copy, which I patiently waited for [Read: checked the mailbox twice daily.] until it arrived. Once I began reading it, I never stopped until I finished it less than 24 hours of receiving it.
Afterwards, I asked myself why I really clicked with their fabulous book and this is what I came up with:
*The book involves genealogy and family history. [No explanation needed on that one.] *The book has a mystery to solve. And it does it so very well. *The characters are raw and real, and that made me empathize with them oh so much more. *It made me laugh. *It took 2 very unlikely characters and brought them together. *It happened on the internet in exactly the same way I've met people online while doing research. [Okay. Almost the same way.]
Speaking of the internet, indeed, it is the main setting in this book. And I mentioned above it's also a character. Although, it's more than both of those, I think. It's a literary device [or could be if more writers used it in this manner]. This book would not be the same written any other way. The use of the internet is an integral part of telling this story. Why? Because times have changed and the internet as a means for communication is becoming more and more prominent. Additionally, this type of communication is done very well, if not in one of the best ways, in the online and genealogy and family history world. Stickell and Robarchek are ingenious for using this device in such a way that many of us could relate to it so well.
There are so many facets of this book that genealogy and family history researchers can relate to that even if you're not really into suspense mystery novels that weave genealogy and family history into their plots with deft finesse, you're going to want to read this 253-paged book of awesomeness.
What do you do when you find unspeakable things in your family history? How do you handle the accurate reporting of what happened? It’s easy to judge...moreWhat do you do when you find unspeakable things in your family history? How do you handle the accurate reporting of what happened? It’s easy to judge others, but I think a fundamental key to really reconstructing your ancestors’ lives is to not judge them. It’s paramount to take a step back from your emotional reaction, and walk in their shoes for a little while. To do this does not mean you approve of everything your ancestors did in their lifetimes, but it allows you to freely explore as much as you can of their lives. In doing this, a researcher can get a more accurate picture of the conditions in which your ancestors lived in and the circumstances in which they went through.
In her book, Into the Briar Patch: A Family Memoir, Mariann S. Regan does a superb job dealing with difficult family history issues. At the beginning of her book, she promises the reader that she will be objective with all information she finds, and she lives up to that promise. She delves into all family relationships she encounters in her family tree and shows the reader the complexities of family relationships.
Additionally, Mariann explores her ancestors who were slaveholders, and gives the reader a glimpse as to the repercussions of slaveholding on her family tree and the relationships contained therein.
As we’ve seen in several episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? and in the first two episodes of Finding Your Roots, it is not easy for descendants to learn their ancestors were slaves nor is it easy for descendants to learn their ancestors were slaveholders. And I believe in her memoir Mariann takes it past her emotional reaction and carefully looks at her slaveholding ancestors - not to condone the actions - but to fully understand the influence these actions have had on her family tree.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who have come across unspeakable circumstances and actions in their family history research, and especially to those who have come across ancestors who were slaveholders. Not only does she give a great example as to how to explore this difficult issue, but her "Works Cited and Selected Bibliography" might be helpful to the researcher as well.(less)
Telling Stories from the Grave Consider this quote:
"I want them [the author's children] to be able to look into the mirror of a book, and find me." [No...moreTelling Stories from the Grave Consider this quote:
"I want them [the author's children] to be able to look into the mirror of a book, and find me." [Nook Tablet, p.398]
If that's not not talking from the grave, I don't know what is. Ruby Alice Side Thompson is the author of the diary entries contained in the books, World War II London Blitz Diary, Volumes 1-4. Only volumes one through three have been published, and I'm in the middle of volume two. However, I wanted to share what a great read this book is.
Towards the end of this first volume Ruby mentions why she is wanting to write a book about her life. Though these diary entries are now what has been published via Vickie Aldridge Washuk, Ruby's great-granddaughter. They are the brutally honest accounts of Ruby's life as she saw things as they happened. They are her innermost thoughts, feelings, jubilations, and frustrations.
And I found her quote listed above as being a huge eye-opener for me as well as touching. I'm always writing about and, at times, casting judgement on my ancestors through my sarcasm, and I hardly ever think about what my descendants will think about me and my decisions. Will they be able to look at me ~ ugly parts and all ~ and see who I truly was? Without too much derision or sarcasm? [They definitely won't be getting it in diary form as I've not written in one since I was 14 years old, and I've not seen it since then either. Unfortunately.]
While I don't always see eye-to-eye with Ruby, I can see that I wish I'd known her in person. I wish that I could have been the one to ask her over for tea and listen to her joyous descriptions of her sewing projects, her opinions of the very progressive books for her time that she read, and her thoughts on religion and politics. She truly was born too early for her time, but because of when she was born and because of the awful situations she found herself in, we are allowed have a small peek into the past from which we can see a family trying to survive the London Blitz during World War II. Luckily for the reader, Ruby has a tight grasp of the goings-on of the war, and she isn't afraid to add her opinions to the mix.
Every up and down in her moods and in her life is documented, and her candidness is what makes this book a page-turner. If you have ancestors who were alive during World War II, especially in the UK, then this book is a good place to find how towns, households, and family members lived and what life was like during WW2 during the London Blitz. Though she didn't have the toughest row to hoe during World War II, so to speak, her life ~ understandably ~ was forever affected by it. And these diary entries afford us a trip through time looking at life through Ruby's eyes.(less)