Historical nonfiction treat

Once Upon a Town: the Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

by Bob Greene

Written in 2002, this is a portrait of the North Platte Canteen in North Platte, Nebraska. From December 17, 1941 until the end of World War II more than six million GIs traveling in troop trains stopped in North Platte on their way to the Pacific coast. In this small city of 12,000, the young men and women were welcomed, thanked, and treated to a feast. There they enjoyed coffee, home-cooked food, and friendly conversation.

From 1941 until the canteen closed, 55,000 volunteers from 125 different towns, some 200 miles away, gave both food and time to make sure not one of these trains were missed and that each soldier was fed. Given the shortages and rationing at the time, it was a miracle. (The only federal funding received was a $5.00 bill from President Roosevelt. He had heard about the Canteen and wanted to help.)

The original idea for the Canteen came from Rae Wilson, a young salesperson at the local drugstore. The citizens of North Platte were expecting Company D.134th Infantry of the local National Guard unit to pass through the town on the way to the Pacific Coast on Christmas Day 1941. That day there was a Company D that came through, but it was a Kansas unit of the National Guard. The community shared what they had with those soldiers and decided to make it their mission to welcome all GI’s that passed through.

For more information you will want to take a look at the following website. https://lincolncountymuseum.org/the-north-platte-canteen1.


My Top Ten in 2022

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson

Bestselling historical fiction author Kim Michele Richardson is back with the perfect book club read following Honey Lovett, the daughter of the beloved Troublesome book woman, who must fight for her own independence with the help of the women who guide her and the books that set her free.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

Known as Lady Death – a lethal hunter of Nazis, Mila Pavlichenko, sent to America on a goodwill tour, forms an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a connection with a silent fellow sniper, offering her a chance at happiness until her past returns with a vengeance.

The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer

From award-winning crime writer and celebrated artist Jonathan Santlofer comes an enthralling tale about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, the forgeries that appeared in its wake, and the present-day underbelly of the art world.

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay

When 27-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter – as well as a gift of saffron – to 59-year-old food writer Imogen Fortier, so begins an enduring friendship that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy and the unexpected in their own lives.

Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close

When Bud, the founder of JP Sullivan’s, drops dead, everyone in the Sullivan family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear, in this comedy of manners about three generations of a Chicago restaurant family and the deep-fried love that feeds them.

Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair

Organizing a matchmaking business together in spite of their differences, two women from 1946 London find their promising company endangered when one of their clients is arrested for the murder of another.

Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini

In 1917, Grace Banker from N.J., Marie Moissec from France, and Valerie DeSmedt, originally from Belgium, are recruited as a telephone operators, aka switchboard solders, to help American forces communicate between troops as bombs fell around them.

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan

After losing everything in the London Blitz, renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott heads to the country where she inspires a local village sewing group to mend wedding dresses for both local brides and brides across the county, helping others celebrate love while searching for it themselves.

West with Giraffes by Lynda Ruttledge

Inspired by true events, this part adventure, part historical saga and part coming-of-age love story follows Woodrow Wilson Nickel as he recalls his journey in 1938 to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo.

Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen

In 1907, after helping distribute clothing to those in need on Ellis Island, Molly discovers, through her policeman husband, that a murder occurred on the island that day and the suspect is the spitting image of her and feels strongly that fate wants her to clear this woman’s name.


Not my usual post

Lou, the fire hydrant, is depressed. He feels that he must have a greater purpose than his current relationship with dogs and dog walkers. When a fire breaks out in a nearby apartment building, Lou is the hero.

This is a debut picture book by author/illustrator Breanna Carzoo. The book assures the reader that they are capable of so much. A cute, sweet book with a wonderful message for all.

According to Kirkus, “Gee whiz, this book is No. 1! (Picture book. 5-8) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/breanna-carzoo/lou/


New Historical Fiction

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks

This historical fiction novel is told from the perspective of Betty Gow, the Lindbergh’s 26-year-old Scottish nanny. Betty observed early on that the Lindbergh’s were very distant from their child and their home. Betty was ready to fill the gap and fell quickly in love with the little boy. She was the one who was responsible for the daily care of the toddler, Charles Lindbergh Jr.

On Tuesday, March 1, 1932, the child was kidnapped from the family home. The Lindbergh’s had built a twenty-room stone house on 390 remote acres near Hopewell, New Jersey. They were looking for privacy after Charles’ transatlantic flight from New York to Paris five years earlier. He was considered a hero.

The first suspect in the kidnapping was the nanny, Betty Gow. She was determined to clear her name from suspicion and help uncover what happened that night. All window shutters in the baby’s room were closed tight except for one. That shutter was warped and impossible to close. It was determined that the kidnapper came through that window and took the child leaving a ransom note demanding $50,000.

The toddler was eventually found dead seventy-three days later. The accused kidnapper, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was arrested two and a half years later. Hauptmann was executed for the murder on Friday, April 3, 1936.

This is a treat for fans of historical fiction. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh Jr. The author offers a possible solution based a much research.

Betty Gow


The Seven Husbands…

79-year-old former Hollywood actor Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her story. She handpicks an inexperienced magazine journalist, Monique Grant, to write her biography. Monique is confused but delighted to be hired to write the legendary film actor’s life story. One requirement Evelyn insists upon is that the book must be published after her death. Evelyn also promises that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Monique.

Evelyn has much to share. She was born to Cuban immigrants in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. She knew she needed more than that life. So, in the 1950’s Evelyn changed her appearance, got married, and headed to Hollywood. The book follows her life for the next 30+ years. Beautiful Evelyn became an adored Oscar winning movie icon who just happened to get married seven times.

This is an incredible story of old Hollywood glamour. Finally at the end of the book, Monique discovers why she was chosen to write Evelyn’s story.


Historical Fiction

In September 1938 a hurricane ripped through the East Coast. This is the story of two young giraffes that crossed the Atlantic in shipping crates and survived the storm. Their eventual destination would be the San Diego Zoo where Belle Benchley was the zoo’s director. The trip to California would be a twelve-day road trip and the person telling their story is the rig’s driver, Woodrow (Woody) Wilson Nickle. (Woody was a dustbowl orphan from the Texas panhandle.) Now at 105 years old Woody, who is living in a VA nursing home, is writing down the adventures before it is too late.

The trip cross country made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America. The trip was dangerous at times. The roads and the weather were often rough. A couple of times different people tried to steal the giraffes. The “Old Man” who oversaw the giraffes and was employed by the Zoo named them “Boy” and “Girl”.

This is a witty, charming, heartwarming, not to-be-forgotten tale


New Historical Fiction

This is the story of three Korean “picture brides” during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Many young women left everything they had known in Korea to become brides in Hawaii. The only contact these women had with their future husbands was in the form of photographs. The pictures may or may not have been that of their future husbands. Many brides were disappointed when they finally met their husbands.

Arriving in 1918, Willow’s husband is Taewan. He did not want to get married. The woman he loved died. Willow’s friend Hongju, a young widow, was disappointed after meeting her new husband. Songwha, the daughter of an outcast in Korea, is stuck with an abusive old husband.

Willow agreed to become a picture bride because she believed she would attend school in Hawaii. That did not happen. Instead, she needed to take care of her father-in-law and support her family. Willow’s husband joined the movement to gain Korea’s independence from Japan. He even traveled to China to fight the Japanese.

Lee Geum-yi is a popular prolific Korean author. This is the first of her books that have translated into English. It is a story for fans of historical fiction revealing what it was like to become a “picture bride”.


A Must Read

This biography was published in 2001 and written by Terry, one of Evelyn Ryan’s daughters. Evelyn and husband Kelly had ten children, six sons and four daughters. Her abusive husband was an alcoholic who often drank away a third of his weekly take-home pay. To supplement the family’s income often providing basic necessities, Evelyn entered contests during the “contest era” of the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was at times successful with her jingles even winning enough for a down payment on a house at one point. Over the years she won a Triumph TR3 sports car, a jukebox, a trip to New York, an appearance on the Merv Griffin show, a Ford Mustang, a trip to Switzerland, and her weight in gold. Mostly she won lesser amounts of cash just when it was most needed.

Evelyn found fun in whatever life sent her way. Her family was her focus. She was a firm believer that miracles were an everyday occurrence. In short, this is an uplifting tale filled with hope that Evelyn was able to pass on to her children.


New Fall Mystery

The story takes place in 1925 in Oak Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Young, attractive, wealthy Elizabeth Fairchild has been living with her parents Mildred and Kenneth Walker since the death of her soldier husband in WWI and unborn child seven years ago. Elizabeth’s friend, Mr. Anthony (Enrico Antonelli) is the owner of a quaint antiques shop she likes to shop at. Sadly Mr. Anthony is found stabbed to death and the local police quickly arrest a local music teacher as the killer.

Elizabeth announces publicly that she is determined to find the real killer with the help of a few friends including: Mrs. Grace Hemingway, lawyer-friend Fred Wilkins, Fred’s Aunt Lucy, her father, and a sympathetic police officer. With the public announcement Elizabeth and others are in danger from gangsters and the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, an auxiliary group that supported the Ku Klux Klan.

The first installment of the Oak Park Village mystery series is a slow-paced, old fashioned mystery with a little romance. I look forward to the next installment.


New mystery


The Desert Flowers Detective Agency is at it again. This time Tanya Cook, pretending to be a home health care aide, is fleecing her clients. Detective Poppy Harmon poses as a weakened elderly widow needing assistance and hires Tanya as her aide. It is a trap. Tanya and her two partners are arrested. Someone does not want Poppy to testify in court and attempts to kill her. Sadly, her neighbor is killed when the woman borrows Poppy’s car, and it goes over a cliff. Poppy’s new air conditioner unit explodes after a phony technician supposedly repairs it. Most people assume Poppy died in that explosion

Poppy masquerades as Matt Flowers’ advisor, his elderly Aunt Bea, when he appears on a reality show titled “My Dream Man”. Matt and Poppy fear that Jesse, the bachelorette on the show, is the stalker’s next target.

These quick cozy mysteries are fun to read.

Desert Flowers Mystery series

Poppy Harmon Investigates – 2018

Poppy Harmon and the Hung Jury – 2019

Poppy Harmon and the Pillow Talk Killer – 2021

Poppy Harmon and the Backstabbing Bachelor – 2022