Book Review: Founding Father: A Novel By J. Kenneth Metz

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Unlike “Sally Hemmings: A Novel,” the leading man in “Founding Father: A Novel” is not Thomas Jefferson, but is Jefferson’s first law professor, George Walker. And “Founding Father’s” early 19th Century setting is not Jefferson’s Monticello, but is little more than a stone’s throw away in neighboring Richmond, Virginia. And the leading lady’s role is not played by Sally Hemmings, but is shared by several Southern belles in Walker‘s life.

It has been 25 years since George Walker signed the Declaration of Independence and 13 years since he helped frame the United States Constitution. He, the mentor to two U.S.presidents and to the Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, has reached a point in his illustrious career where he can rest on his laurels. So George and his wife now have retreated to the sanctum sanctorum of their manor house among the gentry in the genteel City on the James.

But Lady Luck and Lady Karma will sling sand into the machine of Squire Walker’s comfortable, Old South paradise. Throwing grit into his squiredom’s hum drum, frictionless machinery will be a villainous arch-rival, who will cross swords with the “founding father,” a no-account nephew, who will manipulate his Uncle George’s bank account, a dancing girl, who will quicken George’s pulse to a fever pitch, and a femme fatale or two, who will lead George into temptation.

Can anyone deliver him from evil?

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I loved this 40 chapter book. Even though it wasn’t written in first person point of view, it felt like the characters were talking directly to the readers. The foreshadowing at the end of every chapter motivated me to continue reading. My favorite lines: 1) “Could she possibly be interested in me as a man? Interested enough to be teasing me?” 2) Now alone, George, perhaps for the first time in his life, realizes that he has never before spoken to a living soul about his desire for–his need for children. 3) “My empty heart isn’t the issue, more like my empty stomach, my empty pocketbook. All that I can think on is that she shall die regardless of what we do, so–“

My favorite characters were George, his wife, and Lydia. The setting was 1801 Richmond, Virginia, and I admired that the Walker family wasn’t prejudice. They believed in equality. I shed some tears when the groundskeeper, Russell, came up with the last name Walker to honor his former employers before they allowed him to retire and when George and his wife freed Lydia as a slave. They paid her to be their housekeeper. In their household, they didn’t mind sitting at the same table as their workers. It brought a smile to my face. If only the other characters felt that way…

It was sad that George and his wife couldn’t produce any children–they really wanted a family of their own. Unfortunately, George’s wife died from a terrible disease. I liked that he took the time to grieve for his wife. He considered finding a new wife because it was his former’s wife last wish. I loved George and Lydia’s interactions. It was cute the way he kept second-guessing himself about crossing the line between employee/employer, white man/black woman, older man/younger woman, etc.

Since it was historical fiction, it had to keep up with facts, but I cringed every time the ‘n’ word was used. I really enjoyed the ending, especially when a mystery was introduced. How ironic that George’s lawmaking was the one thing that guaranteed justice couldn’t be had. I frowned on that (in a good way–it brought tension), but I couldn’t stop smiling when Lydia reunited with her little boys and daughter.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Accordion By Don March

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Late 1800’s, a handsome cavalry officer falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a traveling musical instrument merchant. The young officer and the beautiful young girl find a deep romantic bond and also a connection to an accordion, but war separates the couple. With the help of their connection to the accordion, he goes on a frantic search to find his lost love.

83770f1e79497748a07bca70d42376fc72f2bbb4-thumbThis 20 chapter book was confusing and very hard to read because it felt like a first draft. From the first to very last page was nothing but run on sentences (comma after comma after comma instead of periods), no question marks or semi-colons when needed. The dialogue didn’t run smoothly because after every single quote, it narrated “he said” or “she said.”

  • There was NO editing at all. Even famous celebrities were spelled wrong. Its Katy Perry (not Katie Perry), Britney Spears (not Brittany Spears), Matt Damon (not Matt Damien), and its the Red Sox (not RED SOCKS)!!! I would have stopped after Chapter 3 because it was a headache trying to figure out what was going on. I finished because I promised a book review, so felt obligated.
  • Some examples of awkward phrases you’d have to shift through if you bought the book: 1) “Mr. Strazinski, this is my room and some of these ruffians are my crew, and again who are you,” Mr. Strazinski answered and then demanded. 2) He nodded to her a long nod and look, nodded to Papa and then he and his men and Stephan walked off, Stephan turned his to catch Camilla’s eyes, their eyes met for one last look. 3) “I would never betray my cousin and such a beautiful lady. I hope you take care of him in your new life,” Stephan said, he and Marie nodded, Marie, head down scurried off. 4) “So where are to, we are walking there,” Matt asked…

Besides all these glaring problems, there was a story in there. Stephan met Camilla in Chapter 5 (the first 4 chapters involved Stephan at war, alongside his cousin and friend). He got injured, so Camilla and her dad nursed him back to health. They fell in love (but it was more like telling rather than showing). They separated once he returned back to his duties. These two were spent on the longest–I enjoyed their Soprani accordion lessons. Plus, I liked the scene where Stephan bonded with his little nephew Basil. Basil needed to decide if he wanted to be in the army as a Lancer or if he wanted to be a priest.

  • The story then continued with Basil and his wife; they moved to America. Then Tommy tried to convince a girl he met at his concert to be his true love. There wasn’t really a transition to these new characters, so I didn’t get a chance to care for them. They were just there. These sections seemed very rushed compared to Stephan and Camilla’s journey of finding love.

If The Accordion was listed on Amazon or Goodreads, I would give it a 1 star.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the book or author:

  • Email– dmarchbooks(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby