5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: The wife of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Eliza Hamilton suffered greatly due to her husband’s ambition. But she was more than the jilted wife of a public sex-scandal. Eliza, being the daughter of a great revolutionary helped shape and influence America’s independence and the shaping of the Union. This is the tale Eliza’s great love, loss, and legacy.

5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

Other than knowing that Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, I knew nothing else of the man or his life. “My Dear Hamilton” provides a glimpse into his personal and political life, as well as his many careers.

2. Politics

Another educational piece shown in “My Dear Hamilton” is that of the political environment of early America. It was interesting to get a feeling of the overall political climate and to see how the Founding Fathers interacted and influenced each other, whether good or bad.

3. Collaboration

“My Dear Hamilton” was written as a collaboration between Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, both respectable writers in their own right. Always nice to see authors working together to create a well thought out and researched novel.

4. Female Perspective

While Kamoie and Dray could have easily written this novel through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton, they instead did it from the perspective of his wife, Eliza. This is extremely powerful as women of history have been consistently ignored and excluded from most history books and novels, which is rather ridiculous because as this book shows, women play a huge role throughout history whether up front or behind the scenes.

5. Research

Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did meticulous research of letters and other original sources to create the basis of “My Dear Hamilton” and it shows. This novel is full of rich history and is a wonderful example of historical fiction.

What are your favorite things about “My Dear Hamilton”?


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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6 Knowledgeable Things about Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

King Leopold’s Ghost

by Adam Hochschild

Nikki’s Rating: 6 out of 10

Summary: A meticulously researched book focused on the exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold. A detailed account of key players and how abuse and slavery were able to continue for years with the world none the wiser. An honest, disturbing look at how colonialism continues to negatively impact the world today.

6 Knowledgeable Things about Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

This book was a huge eye-opener. Nowhere in any formal education was there mention of the massacre that happened in the Congo, or anywhere else in Africa, due to colonialism. As in everywhere else in history, the victors write the history books and conveniently omit any negative images of themselves.

2. Citing Sources

Hochschild did his research diligently. His pages of notes and bibliography provide ample evidence and support of his narrative of what happened in the Congo under King Leopold’s rule.

3. Characters

In “King Leopold’s Ghost,” Hochschild does an amazing job of bringing his historical characters to life. He includes key life events to help readers understand their motivations and values that may have impacted their decisions. However, there is a lack of African voices and Hochschild makes note of this and gives valid reasons why this is so.

4. The Atrocities

While not giving traumatizing details, Hochschild clearly paints a picture of the horror many Congolese people experienced at the hands of their European suppressors. From forced slavery in terrible conditions to being used as target practice, King Leopold encouraged a holocaust in the name of greed.

5. Silence

“King Leopold’s Ghost” includes an explanation of how these atrocities were not made public and how King Leopold was able to manipulate others in power and the media to keep the silence of the massacre that was occurring.

6. Impact

One of the strongest points Hochschild presents in “King Leopold’s Ghost” is how colonialism continues to have an impact in the Congo today. Due to American and European investments, these governments continue interfering with democracy in the Congo going so far as in 1961, providing the means to assassinate Lumumba, an elected prime minister.

What are your favorite things about “King Leopold’s Ghost”?


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

“Between Shades of Gray”

by Ruta Sepetys

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: June 14, 1941, Stalin begins his deportation of people in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia who are deemed anti-Soviet. 15-year-old Lina is taken in the middle of the night with her family. Forced into labor camps with hundreds of others, her family must stay together to survive the harsh conditions of the Arctic circle and the brutalities of the NKVD officers.


10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Real Experiences

While the characters are fictional in “Between Shades of Gray” all the experiences were inspired by true events and situations that survivors experienced. Absolutely horrifying and touching!

2. Educational

Up until reading this book, I was totally ignorant on Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. “Between Shades of Gray” was an eye-opener for me about what happened and also how it was kept secret for so long.

3. Realistic

Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of capturing the experiences of the survivors she interviewed to write “Between Shades of Gray.” Lina seemed so real, it felt like I was reading a diary.

4. Different Reactions

We all react to stress, terror, and death differently. Septeys captured these differences effortlessly. Some characters became complacent or even worked with the NKVD officers. Others became angry and would take out their frustration on other victims. Most did what they had to for survival while still trying to help their fellow prisoners.

5. Emotional

“Between Shades of Gray” is a powerful novel and so emotional. You will cry, you will smile, your heart will break and then be lifted up. This novel is absolutely beautiful!

6. The Writing

Ruta Sepetys kept the writing elegant and simple, there are no unnecessary words or sentences. Easy to read but effectively well-written.

7. Disturbing

While reading “Between Shades of Gray” was difficult due to the subject matter, Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of allowing the reader to comprehend the trauma that the victims went through without actually traumatizing the reader. Yes, the novel is disturbing and unpleasant to read at times, but there are no detailed, bloody torture scenes.

8. Strength in Humanity

One of the strongest things about this novel, is not the stories of what the victims survived, but how they survived together. The victims coming together, stealing food and other items needed for each other. Carrying one another when one was too weak or injured. The NKVD soldiers who took risks trying to help, regardless of the consequences.

9. Capacity for Cruelty

Humans are capable of such cruelty and during Stalin’s reign, the NKVD soldiers committed some serious atrocities. Sepetys includes many examples of the needless death, suffering, humiliation, and pain the victims endured.

10. Love

Lina’s letter in the end, “My husband, Andrius…” made me sob. Love found even in the worst of times.

What are your favorite things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.