Her quiet revolution : a novel of Martha Hughes Cannon,
frontier doctor and first female state senator
by Marianne Monson
This novel is based on life of Martha (Mattie) Hughes Cannon. Martha was born in Wales in 1857. The young family emigrated to New York when she was just 2 years old. They joined the Church of Latter Days Saints, and after saving enough money the family headed west to Utah. Their goal was to settle in Salt Lake City. During the journey Mattie’s little sister, Mary Elizabeth, died. Her father died just days after arriving in Utah. It was during that time period that Mattie decided to pursue a career in medicine. Doctors were scarce, and women doctors were nonexistent.
For most women, their lifetime goals included marriage and lots of children. Polygamy was openly practiced. This was not the life Mattie wanted. She got her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah). With some financial help from the Mormon church, she attended medical school at the University of Michigan. Her education continued at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a degree in pharmacy. She attended the National School of Oratory and learned how to speak eloquently in public.
In addition to all her professional accomplishments, when Mattie moved back to Utah, she wanted to become a wife and mother. She soon became the fourth wife of Angus M. Cannon, a leader in the Mormon church. By this time the U.S. government was actively prosecuting polygamists, especially men. To help safeguard her husband, she left the country with her daughter.
In addition to being a physician, Mattie’s amazing life also included being a Utah State Senator, a Utah women’s rights advocate and suffragist. According to the National Women’s History Museum, in 2018, the Utah state legislature voted to honor Martha Hughes Cannon by sending a statue of her to Washington D.C. to represent Utah in Statuary Hall. The statue would be placed in Statuary Hall in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which allowed women the right to vote in the United States.
This book is a treat for fans of historical fiction and women’s history in the late 1800’s.
As an avid listener of true crime podcasts, I am drawn to stories that focus on the victims. In this case, everyone is a victim. In many ways each person-both the murder victims and their son, their killer-was the victim of untreated mental illness. The family history leading up to the deadly event is just part of the story. The rest of the story is Brian’s and what happens to the criminally insane. This is a well-researched, deep dive into life in a mental institution. Readers are left wondering about Brian and his fate. Lots to unpack and discuss.
Here are some of the new books coming to our shelves this week for you to add to your book list!
The Defense Lawyer: The Barry Slotnick Story by James Patterson & Benjamin Wallace – Takes readers inside the courtroom to witness defense lawyer and Bronx-native Barry Slotnick, known for his brilliant legal mind, sharp suits and bold courtroom strategies, as he never loses a case for his notorious and dangerous clients.
The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard – When her son is released from prison after serving time for the negligent homicide of his girlfriend, Thea is committed to helping him make amends until attempts on their lives are made, leading her to believe that those who are threatening them having something to hide.
Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang – An ICU physician at a busy NYC hospital, 30-something Joan, a workaholic with little interest in having friends, let alone lovers, is required to take mandatory leave until the day she must return to the city to face a crisis larger than anything she’s encountered before.
You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays by Zora Hurston – Spanning more than 35 years of work, this anthology showcases the writings of one of the most acclaimed artists of the Harlem Renaissance, providing a window into her world and time.
Robert B. Parker’s Bye Bye Baby by Ace Atkins – Boston PI Spenser takes on a new case in this installment in Robert B. Parker’s iconic New York Times best-selling series.
Lightning in a Mirror by Jayne Ann Krentz – When her speed dating experiment leads her to Harlan Rancourt, who—long believed dead—needs her help locating a legendary lab, psychic investigator Olivia LeClair must use her unique gift to get them to the top-secret lab before innocent people die.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn – A 30-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a high-paying job and good friends, Yinka, whose aunties frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, must find a date for her cousin’s wedding with the help of a spreadsheet and her best friend.
Desolation Canyon by P. J. Tracy – While coping with the loss of her brother, an LAPD detective discovers the body of a successful attorney in Swan Lake at the Hotel Bel-Air bar, leading to a series of shocking revelations about a sinister cabal.
One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner – Searching for a young man who disappeared without a trace, missing persons expert and recovering alcoholic Frankie Elkin, with her very life on the line, goes up against something very dark to find what she is looking for.
Targeted by Stephen Hunter – When the court in where he is accused of reckless endangerment from his last assignment is attacked by violent operatives, Bobby Lee Swagger must rely on his instincts, shooting skills and the help of a mysterious rogue sniper on the outside, to save the very people who accused him.
It’s Fall of 1983 and Winston Barnes, the 63-year-old Sheriff of Oak Island, North Carolina is awakened one night by the sound of a low flying airplane. When he investigates, Barnes is surprised to find a huge, abandoned cargo plane crash-landed on the local airport’s small runway. He is further surprised to discover the body of a local young Black man, a new dad whose wife says just ran out for diapers, shot dead nearby.
As Barnes begins his investigation, he believes he is mere days away of being voted out of office. His opponent, Brad Frye, a land developer and “good old boy” is delighted when the FBI roll onto the scene to put doubt in the public’s mind that Barnes is still a capable sheriff. Frye is also more than happy to stir up local suspicion that the murdered Black man was part of a drug smuggling ring. Action culminates when the locals begin to threaten and attack the home of the new widow, and Barnes must choose between being popular and doing what is right.
If you are in the mood for simmering, southern atmospheric fiction, with a bit of mystery, pick up When Ghosts Come Home and prepare to be absorbed by this quiet but compelling, character-driven novel that explores themes of grief, greed and racism.
Set in England in the 1920’s, Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport are owners of the “Helliwell and Davenport Private Enquiry Agency”. The women are asked by neighbor Constance Maitland to determine if Ursula, her sister-in-law who is recently married to her brother Hubert, is having an affair with world- renowned artist Louis Langdon Beck. Constance is certain they are not but wants to satisfy her live-in cousin Cressida that it’s being investigated. Ursula and her husband are hosting an artists’ colony at Maitland Park, and Louis is in attendance. (I wasn’t aware that an artists’ colony offers respite from everyday distractions, a quiet place to work, and a sense of creative community for artists in different fields.) Sadly, Louis is found strangled and Constance wants Beryl and Edwina to help in solving the murder along with the local constable who is also a woman.
There are lots of twists and turns in this mystery along with a second murder. Beryl and Edwina are fun characters with differing personalities that shine through. I heartily recommend the entire series.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to read next, let the stars (and the Library!) help you decide. The 12 signs of the zodiac, ancient in origins, help us to understand the complex and emotional journey of being human. If you don’t know your astrological sign, it will be whatever date below corresponds with your birthday.
Yes, Aries is represented by the ram, but if you look at the glyph used to depict the animal’s curving horns it also looks like the first green sprouts you see emerging from the cold, snowy earth in springtime. Being the first sign of the zodiac, Aries always marks the beginning of something, springing into action, and an intense enthusiasm. When looking for books, look for ones with brave and energetic heroes, or fast-paced adventures.
If you’re looking for Aries authors, look no further than Maya Angelou, Leigh Bardugo, Barbara Kingsolver, Anthony Horowitz, Louis L’Amour, and Jennifer Weiner.
I like to think of Leos as the equivalent of a fireplace: warm, inviting, the central gathering point for friends and family. Leos have a natural ability to bring people together. Combine that with their sense of humor, flair for the dramatic, and sense of pride, they make easy and exciting friends. When looking for books, go for bold, strong characters that love to stand out and that have a certain charisma that draws people into the fold.
Famous Leo authors include Madeline Miller, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, Sue Monk Kidd, and Stieg Larsson.
Sagittarius is the traveler of the zodiac, in all respects. Sagittarians love to visit new places, experience new things, and dive into a variety of philosophies in a never-ending quest for knowledge and discovery. Ever hear the phrase “Shoot from the hip?” Represented by the centaur, Sagittarius rules the hips. Sagittarians are extremely vocal and willing to immediately share their thoughts on anything and everything. When looking for books, choose ones with rich, lush locations and ones with thought-provoking questions.
If you’re looking for a Sagittarius author, try Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Ann Patchett.
Being an earth sign, Taurus is known for being well-grounded in the physical world. Taurus is all about the senses and curating the best quality stuff. They’re more than happy to indulge in an elaborate meal or bubble bath. A Taurus can be slow to act but once they get the motivation, watch out! Nothing can stop them. When looking for books, go for ones that feature determined characters or some of the sweeter pleasures in life. Work hard, play hard.
Taurus authors include Harper Lee, Jodi Picoult, Daphne du Maurier, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Terry Pratchett, and Charlotte Bronte.
Virgos are perfectionists; they love to create order out of chaos. They have keen observation skills, and they can be quite eloquent and thoughtful. A Virgo can piece together details when no one else can or find patterns when there seemingly are none, so look for books that feature a mystery to solve or that illustrate the subtle intricacies of everyday life.
Virgo authors include Angie Thomas, George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Agatha Christie.
If you want something done, ask a Capricorn. Symbolized by the mythological sea goat, there is no mountain a Capricorn cannot scale. Extremely independent and ambitious, Capricorns typically have a list of goals and they enjoy the hustle. Look for memoirs, biographies, or other books that will inspire wisdom and achievements.
Famous Capricorn authors include Michelle Obama, J.R.R. Tolkien, Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, Nicholas Sparks, and Zora Neale Hurston.
There’s never a dull moment with a Gemini. Geminis are intensely curious, playful, and cerebral. Geminis are constantly bouncing from idea to idea, entertaining new hobbies and passions, and adapting to new things. I also find them to be the funniest of the zodiac. Being of the mind, new ideas and communication are important to Geminis. Look for books with sharp dialogue or clever plots that will fuel the imagination.
Famous Gemini authors include Fredrik Backman, Andy Weir, Maria Semple, Louise Erdrich, Adam Silvera, and Ken Follett.
Scales symbolize justice, equality, and harmony. While they love to exchange ideas or join a lively debate, Libras seek the peace and balance of the scales. They’re known for being peacekeepers and mediators since they’re adept at seeing all points of view. Libras can talk for hours, they’re incredibly approachable after all, and they are known to invest deeply in their relationships. Look for books that are idealistic or charming, and that highlight the beauty in relationships.
Libra authors include Kristin Hannah, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Roxane Gay, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nora Roberts, and Oscar Wilde.
Every Aquarian is a rebel and a visionary at heart. They have a knack for seeing the big picture and they’re open to a multitude of ideas and experiences. Ready to change the world at a moment’s notice, Aquarius is known for being the humanitarian of the zodiac. If an Aquarius feels they’re meant to change something on the planet, they will. Look for books with a spark of revolution, unusual plots or retellings, and characters with a deep desire to improve the world around them.
Famous authors born under the sign of Aquarius include Toni Morrison, Samantha Irby, John Grisham, Virginia Woolf, Marissa Meyer, and Casey McQuiston.
The crab perfectly represents the sign of Cancer: hard, tough exterior; soft, squishy inside. Cancers are very compassionate, protective, and loyal to the ones they love. Drawn to routines and comfort, a Cancer would much rather snuggle up with a book or have a movie night at home with a loved one instead of going out. Ruled by the Moon, Cancers are very intuitive and can assess the tone of a room instantly. Look for books with sweet, gentle characters, or ones that dive deep into emotion.
Authors born under the sign of Cancer include Markus Zusak, Elizabeth Gilbert, David McCullough, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, and Anna Quindlen.
Some of my favorite people are Scorpios and if you prove your loyalty to them, they make very devoted and passionate friends. Scorpios have an air of mystery and intensity about them that makes them hard to ignore. If you’re looking for a honest answer, ask a Scorpio. Their bluntness has no filter. They’re also great at keeping secrets. Profound thinkers, fearless, and intuitive, when a Scorpio wants something, they don’t hold back. Look for books with broody, intense characters or look for dark, moody mysteries.
Scorpio authors include Anthony Doerr, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Liane Moriarty, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Holly Black.
If you’re a Pisces, you may have been called an old soul a time or two. Pisces are magical, soulful, and dreamy. They seem to have an endless source of creativity and empathy for others, and a sense of wisdom that runs incredibly deep. The glyph associated with Pisces is two fish swimming in opposite directions, reflecting the duality and internal struggle of this water sign. Pisceans want to chase big dreams, but they can easily wander and be pulled in different directions. Look for books that feature magical realism, fantasy, or beautiful language that you can get lost in.
New year, new books! There are so many great books being published this year and below you’ll find five books that I’m particularly excited for! I can’t wait to read these titles and I hope you’ll get inspired by my picks as well.
In addition to stocking up on new releases in the coming months, this year I’m planning on revisiting some favorite classics as well. I’ll be spending some time with H.P. Lovecraft and Emily Bronte again, while making time to dive into some non-fiction titles and biographies (which is a bit out of my typical reading comfort zone).
The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space. Expected publication: April 2022
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico. Expected publication: July 2022
Book of Night by Holly Black
#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies in the vein of Ninth House and The Night Circus.Expected publication: May 2022
A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them. Expected publication: January 2022
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy. Expected publication: July 2022
What books are you looking forward to checking out this year?
Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols. Annie Chapman. Elizabeth Stride. Catherine Eddowes. Mary Jane Kelly. Everyone knows the moniker Jack the Ripper, but very few know the names of his victims. For over a century the focus has been on the killer and the nature of his crimes, the meticulous and brutal murder of prostitutes. Author Hallie Rubenhold flips the script on traditional Ripper lore, and presents the lives of the five women whose lives have been reduced by history to their victim status and alleged unsavory activities. These women were more than victims. They were servants, business owners, wives, and mothers. The press of the day was so eager to allay fear amongst Londoners that they painted a portrait of a madman who preyed on prostitutes. This narrative was not only false, it prevented the truth about these women to be known. They were not perfect, but their greatest crime was being born poor women and being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is a fascinating look at poverty in Victorian London as well as an exciting new chapter in the Jack the Ripper case. Modern day true crime fans will appreciate that author’s work in humanizing and respecting the victims of these brutal crimes.
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In This Tender Landby William Kent Krueger, hundreds of Native American children have been separated from their parents and sent to the Lincoln School in Minnesota, a boarding school meant to take the perceived “wild” out of these children by providing structure and forcing them to speak only English. The Brinkmans are the corrupt family who run the school and for years have taken advantage of their students, by stealing their money, by not permitting any family contact, and by doling out physical & mental abuse along with a shortage of nutritional food and clean clothing.
Odie narrates this novel and shares his adventures from the summer of 1932, when at 12-years-old, he and his older brother Albert O’Banion, along with Mosie, a mute Native American boy, and Emmy, a six-year-old ward of the Brinkman’s, decide they’ve all had enough at the Lincoln School and escape by canoeing down the Mississippi river.
As the group of self-proclaimed “vagabonds” journey in search of better lives, they have run-ins with drunks, bootleggers, hobos and con artists and get into some seriously dangerous situations along their way to St. Louis. Suspense builds as the gang learns that the Brinkmans have hired bounty hunters and are after them and closing in fast.
This Tender Land, was published in 2019 but is set during the Great Depression and reads like a modern classic. and is a beautifully crafted novel that has plenty for every reader —a mix of literary fiction, coming-of-age, adventure, mystery, and a lesson in morality and forgiveness.
If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, Huckleberry Finn or just enjoy compelling historical fiction, you won’t want to missthis novel.
Norman, a gabby porcupine, has a best friend named Mildred, a silent tree. The pair do everything together, even if it is one-sided. Life is great until a sapling appears close to Mildred. Norman becomes very jealous, especially when the trees touch. He needs to do something. He doesn’t want to lose his best friend Mildred. So Norman sneakily transplants the sapling far far away. Mildred misses the sapling and Norman begins to feel guilty. What should he do?
I love everything about this picture book: the plot; the characters’ names; the illustrations. I also love the message about friendship shared with small children.