My Reading List: 18th and 19th Century Treaties and Culture Clash

A few people have asked if I had any resources regarding the treaties between Native American (or First Nation) nations and the English, French, Spanish, and U.S. Governments. People want to understand what’s going on regarding land today from a historical context. I am not a historian, but I love to read, so I made this list of books that I found helpful. I also think it’s important to study issues from the inside out, and not only from dominant culture looking in. In the words of Dragging Canoe from 1775:

“Whole nations have melted away in our presence like balls of snow before the sun, and have scarcely left their names behind except as imperfectly recorded by their enemies and destroyers.”

Let’s dive in! The plan is to go from a broad understanding to a more specific area of study (Cherokee Nation, 1700s-1800s), and so get more of a first-hand perspective. This is not an exhaustive list and is mostly based on history because that is my area of study right now. Please remember that Native Nations are very much alive today and that issues over land and culture continue for each Nation. Let us know of more modern resources AND books regarding other nations in the comments!

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Slick Law: Vigilante Justice Gone Sour

Not every area had a courthouse, so wait times for justice were long, if justice came at all. Sometimes people didn’t agree with the judge. So what did people do when they didn’t have or trust the law? They made their own vigilante justice group.

This is my part in the Historical Writer’s Forum summer blog hop on momentous events. I think this blog concludes a momentous year after January of 1836 when certain settlements became counties and transitioned to the court system. If you want to know why I chose this topic in relation to my family saga series, scroll all the way down.

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Author Interview: Delphine Woods

Today I have a talented guest! Delphine Woods comes to us from the UK where she spends her free time reading mysteries and thrillers in her home office, surrounded by beautiful books and notepads, with her dog by her side. Woods holds a degree in creative writing from the Open University and is determined to bring her own gothic mystery and thriller novels to readers.

If you check out her website she has even made a “starter library” for potential readers, which I think is a really clever way to introduce people to her work. So, let’s talk about these novels.

Q: Gothic novels are some of my favorites, and you have written quite a few of them, but for those of us who don’t know gothic novels, how would you describe them? 

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Review: Kindred

This book had me wanting to slap a lot of people. Mind you, I’ve only slapped one person in my life. If I’ve already committed to the action by thinking about it, this a significant increase. I also posted this review to everywhere but my blog so far, which is not the usual order. Now everything is upside down.

Book description:

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review

After reading the first chapter and rolling my eyes a little, I’m thinking Dana will save this white kid and he’ll love her and be a good person and all that jazz. Yeah, no…I got a kick-in-the-pants surprise.

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Review: Photographs of October

Photographs of october

There’s something about the candid thought process of the main characters that I really love, and by the time I got a couple chapters in I couldn’t put the darn thing down.

Meticulous research, wonderful levels of suspense, thrilling and perfect slaughter…

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What’s in a Book Title

Let’s talk about book titles. Have you ever encountered a book title that made you want to read instantly? I sure have. Sometimes I feel insignificant; how can I ever come up with something that good? Let’s find out why they are so awesome.

Book titles and book covers

Why does a proper book title matter?

Having a book title that potential readers can identify as something they want to buy helps tremendously. Yes, I said tremendously. Not just an adverb, it’s starting to become an annoying word in general and I hope we’ll remember annoying words longer.

Imagine you are browsing for a book around a certain time period or subject matter. If the cover doesn’t say exactly what you want, your next clue is the title. Or visa versa. The back cover copy is there to back up your assumption.

What does a book title need to do?

Well, it is slightly different per genre. Not every book can satisfy all the requirements, but we can sure try. Writing groups tell me these are important:

  • Indicate genre
  • Indicate what the book is about
  • In the case of historical fiction: Indicate a time period

How can one accomplish this?

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Review: Remembrance by Rita Woods

Remembrance arrived on my doorstep when the COVID-19 lockdown started. It came with some goodies that make my first couple weeks feel a whole lot better.

Remembrance, coffee, and a mug

Because I gave up coffee a while ago I only had my dad’s coffee filters (for when my parent’s visit) and used a rubber band to hold it in place while the hot water did its thing. It’s only redneck if it doesn’t work, right? Or did I get that wrong…I don’t know. But my patience was rewarded with some amazing coffee in a beautiful mug made by awesome women of Papillon.

Anyway, on to my thoughts.

Book description

Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there. 

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young nurse grapples with her life.

Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.

1857 New Orleansa city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper…. Remembrance.

Review

Full disclosure: I have never really enjoyed supernatural or fantasy elements in my historical fiction. I also dislike most alternative history. I could not get into The Underground Railroad (by Colson W.) no matter how badly I wanted to. But Remembrance caught my eye. Here’s why: Woods uses an element (voodoo) that is reasonable for the time, but still markedly different than usual alternatives to history. In other words, it’s unique but not ridiculous.

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Review: This Tender Land

This Tender Land

This book came to me at a perfect time. I was trying to figure out why I so disliked a different book featuring a traveling group, and found the answer in a few things This Tender Land did right. But first, here is a description of the book right from Good Reads:

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Who is Joaquin Murieta and Why Had I not Heard of Him?

Joaquin Murieta's drawing
Do we even know if he had a wild eyed look?

It’s a real question. Why is this bandit, who terrorized people throughout 1850s California, a new discovery for me? Murieta is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He hides behind the tale of Zoro. He lived on somewhat fictionalized in plagiarized magazine and radio serials. Countless westerns used his life as a model for their honorable bandits. But he himself is lost to time.

Did I not pay attention in school? Did I simply miss a museum display? Are the street names I pass every so often just generic? Is Rancho Murieta named after him? That would be ironic; a gated community named for a man who illuded all capture and fences.

I set out on a quest this year to read more books by people of color. I want to know what’s out there and to support their voices. The difference between speaking up for somebody and supporting somebody who is already speaking is a whole nother story, but an important one. And yet I get stuck, stuck in this endless loop of wanting to read really old books. So I bought some books by people who are alive (next on my list) and then I set out to read the 1854 novel The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta by John Rollin Ridge (definitely dead).

What drew me to this book

I studied the political factions of the Cherokee Nation for my writing and I knew a signer of the Treaty of New Echota had a son who wrote a novel. I didn’t care what it was, I wanted to see it, and to see how the events of his life crept into his writing. Ridge’s father knew he would die for signing that treaty and he did, supposedly right in front of the children, so you know…already there is tension.

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Book Reviews: Necessary Sins and Lost Saints, from the Lazare Family Saga

What does over two decades worth of research get you? An artful and brilliant series with the ability to put the reader right into the past. I have the privilege of receiving advanced reader copies before each release so far, and it’s hooked me from the first page. Since this is a saga meant to be read in order, I’m putting my reviews of the first two books here in order.

Necessary Sins

As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew this book would tear at my heart and make me want to reach through the pages to slap a couple of characters. The author dives right into the mind and life of each character, period prejudice and all, giving a vivid experience of the times and culture. Heroes are conflicted. Villains live up to their labels. Every scene, character, and phrase drives the story forward with relentless irony. 

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