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review 2015-06-20 07:06
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
The Mapmaker's Children - Sarah McCoy

I close the pages of my book and stare, once again, at the cover of The Mapmaker's Children.  I run my hand over the front, smoothing out any imperfections. And then I release a long sigh of satisfaction. What an amazing story! I sit and ponder all of the research Sarah McCoy must have done in order to tell the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of American abolitionist, John Brown. I felt like it deserved my undivided attention. I read at a slower pace, savoring the story that unfolded. I enjoyed the Little Women vibe it often evoked with me. When I read stories like this, I'm reminded why historical fiction is my favorite genre. McCoy does a brilliant job combining fact with fiction and I was easily transported back to an America divided by slavery, an America that was once North and South, divided by cruelty, greed, race, and hatred. During it all, the character of Sarah Brown remained devoted, loyal, and heroic in her beliefs and through her tireless efforts with the Under Ground Railroad. I was captivated by this portion of McCoy's novel. I found myself looking up real historical dates associated with the story and astonished at the accuracies. Of course, all authors take liberties with facts, trying to piece together bits and pieces, conversations, and relationships. McCoy is believable here, weaving a story that left me heartbroken for Sarah, her family, and those she loved and desperately tried to protect. Sarah Brown was a woman to be admired. She sacrificed so much, often risking her life. 


The Mapmaker's Children is told in past and present. I'm not normally crazy about these kind of tales but it works. The stories merge nicely, finding a common thread. Eden Anderson is the main character in the present day story. Initially, I had a hard time identifying with Eden. She's the complete polar opposite of Sarah Brown. Eden faces difficulties in her life with anger, resentment, and an accusing tone. She's very bitter. She could learn a lot from Sarah Brown. And she will! I enjoyed the way the two stories tied in. Very creative and clever! Even a little spooky. Overall, I would recommend this book. I think this book will become a historical fiction fave for all but be prepared to have your heart broken along the way. 


*Super special thanks to Sarah McCoy for sending me this incredible book through the AuthorBuzz Shelf Awareness Giveaway. Sarah, you sure know how to package a book. One fun surprise after the other! I promise, I was in no way swayed or bribed. I genuinely liked this book. 




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review 2015-05-23 15:58
The Mapmaker's Children
The Mapmaker's Children - Sarah McCoy

It always pleases me to read historical fiction done right. The Mapmaker’s Children  by Sarah Mc Coy is extremely well done and interesting.


In this novel, Mc Coy introduces the reader to Sarah Brown the daughter of the abolitionist John Brown. While the author took liberties, her extensive three years of research establish the foundation for this remarkable story.


Sarah Brown was an artist and an activist that clearly was involved in the Under Ground Railroad. She never married but her love for children fostered a lot of her actions both in the South and later when she relocated to California.


Mc Coy’s story imagines a link to a modern day woman named Eden. Her life crisis evolves around the fact that she is unable to become pregnant. While she and her husband struggle to cope with this issue, they move to New Charlestown, VA and buy a house in a neighborhood historically tied to Sarah Brown and the Civil War.

In alternating chapters, the past and the present weave together. Historical facts about the UGRR (Under Ground Rail Road) as well as the personalities involved in it’s success are delivered seamlessly throughout the novel.


This reader can never get enough of historical fiction especially when it is written in the in this period of history. Thank you, Blogging for Books for providing me with the book for review. I encourage followers of historical fiction not to let this one pass. It is well worth the read.

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review 2014-11-13 02:08
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

The Mapmaker's Children

by Sarah McCoy

Hardcover, 320 pages

publisher Crown Publishing

ISBN 0385348909 (ISBN 13: 978038534804)



The Mapmaker's Children is a definite must read. Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, has a gift for artwork. After her father is hung, she continues to support the Underground Railroad by making maps for runaway slaves to follow. 150 years later, Eden and her husband move into a historic home and find an antique doll's head. Unable to bear children, Eden takes an interest in the house and tries to get it listed on a historical house registry. Sara McCoy brilliantly weaves the two stories into one, without leaving the reader confused. She took real life characters from the 1860's and realistically gives them life. Her 2014 characters are also well developed and likable. The story flows very well and leaves the reader into wanting to learn more of the history of the Underground Railroad and the Abolitionist Movement.
I would definitely recommend this to adults, young adults, and teachers wanting to spark their students into wanting to learn more about this time in history.

***This book was received through a Goodreads Giveaway offered by the publisher, Crown Publishing.***


Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/18490777-the-mapmaker-s-children
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review 2014-06-14 23:25
Behind the Black Door
Behind the Black Door - Sarah Brown Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, writes her tale of what it was like "behind the black door" of No. 10. It's a fascinating read to see what the spouse or partner of the head of state and/or government must put up with. As the wife of the Prime Minister (WPM for short as Brown occasionally writes), she has no official title, office or actual real guidance as to what her role was to be (like most of her predecessors before her) so she had to figure it out as she went along.

The book pretty much covers the time G. Brown enters 10 Downing St. and ends when Labour loses the 2010 election and becomes the Opposition. S. Brown discusses her mostly day to day activities, from getting settled to meeting people to what she does as the spouse of the PM as well as raising two young sons while being at No. 10. I found it really fascinating to read how she transitioned into from being the wife of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the wife of the Prime Minister (the experience was helpful).

We see glimpses of famous people and well-known politicians. Brown seems to like the Obamas a lot, with mentions quite often (with an amusing picture of her holding hands with President Obama standing next to their spouses). But we see Nicholas Sarkozy, David Beckham, Naomi Campbell, Piers Morgan, JK Rowling, etc. along with mentions of other politicians. But because Brown is not involved in the political, we see more mentions of people like the Obamas at big events (charity events, the G20, etc.) than say David Cameron, or Nick Clegg, except when relevant. Interestingly enough Tony Blair doesn't get much of a mention either--and neither does Cherie Blair, who I thought might be helpful to Brown in figuring out the WPM role.

Brown also focuses much on her charity work and daily work in answering correspondence, attending meetings, raising her sons, etc. However, the book remains rather impersonal in a way. She never criticizes her husband and always remains supportive of him. It was interesting to see one or two anecdotes that her book and his on the financial crisis shared: When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, the Browns were awoken one morning early by a staff member. Sarah Brown thought it was their son and told him to go back to bed to let Gordon sleep, only to realize it wasn't their child. Both books also talk about being prepared to exit No. 10 in the case the bailout plan was not well received and Gordon Brown would have to resign.

But those glimpses are few and far in between. Other newspaper reviews criticized this book for being a little "Stepford Wife"-ish. Personally I don't think they could expect Brown to criticize her husband in a public venue like her book, nor did they seem to realize that she was not really there to write about the political. That said, sometimes the book seems stilted: apparently Brown chose to write this book soon after the 2010 election and compiled it from her diaries, notes, emails, etc. It took a bit of getting used to, but overall I enjoyed reading it for the most part.

In some ways the story isn't finished, as both are still living and as of this writing Brown still serves as an MP. It will be interesting if S. Brown chooses to write another book of the post No. 10 years or revise this one.

Personally I found it very enjoyable and liked being able to see a bit of what goes on in No. 10 in the eyes of the spouse. I do not consider myself an expert in British politics or history at ALL, but I didn't feel lost when Brown did discuss elections (which wasn't too often or jargony either). If you have any interest in her or her work or her husband or British politics, I think it's worth buying.
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review 2013-06-21 00:00
Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey Series #1)
Summerset Abbey - T.J. Brown I can't say this was the most exciting book but I did enjoy all the intrigue.
I got a little aggravated with Prudence. (I understand that the times were changing but they hadn't completely yet.) Prudence seemed a little too entitled to me. I understand that she was raised with the Buxton girls but it seemed a little overboard considering that she knew her mother was a maid/governess.
I also didn't like everyone placing all the blame on Rowena for everything. What was she supposed to do? I don't understand everyone's dislike for her. I mean, women still had no real voice. They were fighting to change that but it it hadn't changed yet. So, what was she supposed to do? Try to live with no home, no money, no rights, and raise Prudence and Victoria? I felt like she got the shafted. Her uncle lets out the house and some how it's her fault? It just showed how childish Prudence and Victoria were. Especially since Rowena felt so guilty and responsible for things she had no control over and they continued to blame her.
Victoria. What to say about this one? I really have no idea. I mean, she was unimportant until the end.
Overall, I'm curious to see what happens with the girls in the next book but I want the actual book so I can skim over the boring details about the house, decorations, and dresses.
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