The Mapmaker’s Children Review

Lately I have been drawn to books that mix a storyline from the past along with one from the present, like Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman.  Even better if there is a connection that ties the two together.  In Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children, she does that beautifully.

The historical side tells the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, who was executed for aiding slaves through the Underground Railroad.  Sarah’s artistic talent lends itself to the cause, as she’s able to create detailed maps to assist the slaves in finding freedom.  Knowing she will forever be unable to bear children, she risks her life to fight for what she believes is right.

Fast-forward to the present where we meet Eden Anderson, a former PR executive who moves to New Charleston and discovers a porcelain doll head in her pantry.  She becomes angry and bitter after struggling with infertility in a new town where she knows no one.  That is, until her 11-year-old neighbor appears and helps become a detective as to why that doll is in her house.

Sarah McCoy truly has a way with words and as the chapters alternate between past and present, you oftentimes believe you are reading separate books because of how distinct the writing is.  I learned so much about the Brown family and saw the Civil War through their eyes.  It’s amazing how much we can take for granted now, just having a warm house in winter and food on our table, things that families had to fight for during hard times.

The newly released paperback version of this book is perfect for book clubs as it already has preprinted questions and a discussion with Sarah about her research into this story and music she listened to while writing.  I am eager to go back and read the author’s first novel, The Baker’s Daughter, knowing how much I enjoyed this one.  Be sure to check out Sarah’s bio on the Penguin Random House page.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  Thank you for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

4 Women Authors You Should Know

Do you have a favorite author?  One who whenever they release their newest work gets preordered online as soon as you hear the news?  You’ve read everything they’ve written and have trouble waiting for more?  That’s how I feel about the following four ladies.  For each of them, I’d read their grocery lists if they published them.  They can do no wrong in the writing world.

imageAmy Hatvany

With her sociology background, she really knows how to write women’s fiction and books that are relevant.  Issues that you can imagine the everywoman going through.  Start with Best Kept Secret about Cadence, a mother who tackles a drinking problem, and Safe With Me, about two women who meet under less-than-fortunate circumstances and form a bond that ends up saving them both.

imageDiane Chamberlain

Years ago I stumbled upon Diane’s books and haven’t been able to stop since.  Her power lies in the ability to make all her characters come alive on the page.  She is also known for throwing in a good twist just when you think the story is going in a different direction.  Start with The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes about an infant that goes missing and if the truth will really set you free and an amazing historical fiction novel, Necessary Lies, about a new social worker who befriends a family of tobacco farmers and what role the government should play in their lives.

imageSarah Jio

I think Sarah is the one author that I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite.  She is known to alternate between stories set in the present and the past and sometimes has a mystery thrown in.  Her books have me turning the pages and I can usually finish them in a day or two because you’re swept up in their stories.  She is newer to the women’s fiction scene and trust me, she’s not going anywhere.  Start with her first book, The Violets of March, about Emily, a divorced woman who finds a diary that helps her determine if her love life is over for good and The Bungalow, her second novel about an Army nurse who falls for a soldier and what they discover overseas.

imageEllen Hopkins 

Genius doesn’t begin to describe Ellen, who writes most of her novels in verse.  While it may take some getting used to, I am in awe every time I pick up a new one.  Her books are longer but they fly by because of her writing style.  Just be warned: there is a lot of profanity, drug use, and sex in her books.  She mostly writes YA but has just started venturing out into adult novels as well.  And all her books tackle extremely prevalent issues going on today.  Start with Crank, loosely based on her real-life daughter’s struggle with crystal meth (this is the first one in a trilogy) and  Identical, about identical twins who are trying to find themselves and what really happened in car accident when they were younger.

Any must-read women I should add to my list?  Would love to hear your favorites.