First 100 Animals Sticker Book by Roger Priddy

I normally would not review a children’s sticker book, but I have to make an exception for this one.

I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old in my life who love this book. They have to take turns choosing stickers or they’d fight over it.

We’ve enjoyed finding the animal stickers from the back to place on pages where the animals are grouped by categories like Farm babies, Pets, At the Zoo, On Safari, and several others.

They require help at these ages. I’ve had to help them find the stickers to go with each picture so it’s not exactly a do-it-yourself at 2 and 4, though the four-year-old isn’t too far away from that independence.

I’ll look for more of these fun sticker books!

-Sandra Merville Hart



Share Some Kindness by Apryl Stott

Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light (full title)

This children’s picture book will be easy to read aloud to the preschool and kindergarten-aged children in your life.

Stott’s beautifully illustrated book is about two best friends—a little girl and a bear. Both share an important quality, which is kindness.

The bear is so big that the other animals are afraid of him. They don’t trust in his kind nature, even when he does kind things for them.

The two friends learn together how to show true kindness and shine the light.

A sweet picture book!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Feeding the Sick and Wounded in Civil War Richmond

by Sandra Merville Hart

The Confederate Capitol was officially transferred to Richmond, Virginia, on May 21, 1861. Confederate President Jefferson Davis moved there with his family.

The city with a prewar population of 38,000 swelled to 100,000 by 1865.

Soldiers were part of that number, including sick and wounded at over thirty hospitals. The largest of these was Chimbarazo—included in its 120 buildings was a bakery. Winder Hospital had 98 buildings with a farm.

One of the smaller hospitals was Mississippi Hospital No. 7 at Howard’s Grove. The surgeon in charge was William J. Moore in 1862. A patient’s diet could be restricted to “full,” “half,’ or “light” by the doctors. I found a copy of the Bill of Fare for this hospital in 1862.

Choices in a Full Diet included:

Soups: Beef, Chicken, Oyster

       Fish: Perch, Trout, Cat Fish*

       Roasts: Beef, Mutton, Pork, Chicken, Duck

       Boiled: Beef

       Fricassee (stewed or fried meat served in a thick white sauce): Mutton Chops, Beefsteak*, Chicken, Pork Chops, Sausage, Venison, Quail, Eggs

       Vegetables: Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cabbages, Onions, Beets, Carrots, Celery

Choices in a Half Diet included:

Soups: Beef, Chicken, Oyster

       Fish: Perch, Trout, Cat Fish*

       Boiled: Chicken, Eggs

       Vegetables: Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions

Choices in a Light Diet included:

Butter Toast, Milk Toast, Dry Toast, Roast Apples, Oyster Soup, Beef Tea, Rice Pudding, Rice Boiled, Custard Pudding, Molasses, Soft Boiled Eggs

       Breads: Biscuit, Rolls, Egg Bread, Corn Bread*, Baker’s Bread, Family Bread

Beverage choices were coffee, chocolate, green & black tea, milk.

Surgeons could order extras for patients:

Blanc Mange*, Wine Whey, Calve’s* Feet, Arrow Root Pudding, Oranges, Apples

Food shortages due to the swelled population affected Richmond as the war continued. It’s likely that a later menu wouldn’t contain these same choices.   

*Spelling from 1862 menu


“10 Facts Richmond Virginia,” American Battlefield Trust, 2021/02/04

“Richmond in the Midst of the Civil War,” Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2021/02/04

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

Experimental Balloon Flight from Cincinnati Ends Badly During Civil War

by Sandra Merville Hart

Before the Civil War started, Thaddeus S.C. Lowe dreamed of flying his hot air balloon on a transatlantic flight. A successful test flight from Philadelphia to New Jersey was made on June 28, 1860. Three months later on September 7th, wind ripped open his balloon, the Great Western, when Lowe attempted a transatlantic flight.

Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, suggested a second test over land.

Lowe planned a night flight from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Chesapeake Bay area on Enterprise, a new balloon. He left Cincinnati the night of April 19-20, 1861. Fort Sumter had been fired on a week earlier, marking the beginning of the Civil War.

Winds unfortunately carried him South. Lowe tried to land near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. Armed men ordered him to take off again, which he did.

His second landing was even worse. Folks in South Carolina didn’t trust him. They placed his deflated balloon in a wagon and escorted both to Unionville, SC. A local newspaper editor knew of the aeronaut. He wrote a letter of introduction for Lowe to take to leaders in Columbia.

The letter didn’t help. Lowe was arrested. He stayed in jail until government officials released him.

On April 26, 1861, Lowe rode a train back to Cincinnati with his balloon. He reflected on troop movements he’d observed from his flight. It sparked a new idea.

He put his transatlantic flight dream to rest. Serving his country by observing the Confederate army from the air became his goal.


Fanton, Ben. “Gas Balloons: View From Above the Civil War Battlefield,”, 2021/02/05

Gould, Kevin. “Balloon Corps,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2021/02/05

“Thaddeus S.C. Lowe,” Wikipedia, 2021/02/05


Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid was born as the daughter of a slave woman in 5th century Ireland. A druid foretold that she would be a blessing or a curse to Ireland. Her father took her from her mother at the age of five and she grew up missing her mother.

Patrick, a Christian, had been in the area spreading the news about the One God and Jesus, His Son, who had died to save the people from their sins. Brigid met Patrick and became a Christian.

But there’s something unique about Brigid. She has a gift that makes her a target and puts her in danger.

My interest was snagged right away and I didn’t want to put the book down. Many of Brigid’s fellow citizens trusted whatever the druids said and the customs of that day were very different from modern times. There were many surprising twists and turns … and danger, too.

It was a treat to read a novel set during the days of St. Patrick. I enjoyed this story. Recommended for readers of historical fiction and Irish history.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Love You, Truly by Susan Tuttle

Harlow Tucker isn’t interested in dating Blake Carlton as part of a reality show where he dates several other women. No matter how handsome and famous he is, Harlow has more important things on her mind—like starting her sister’s charity and her nursing career. She already has little time to pursue photography. Yet Mae was the one who suggested she participate in the show … and she’d do anything for her sister.

Blake only agrees to the show to help his mother’s career. He’d do anything in his power to save her from his dad’s fate.

Harlow fights her attraction for him, knowing he is dating a dozen others at the beginning of the show. On the other hand, taking photos in exotic locations fulfills her longing to travel.

The novel gives an inside look at “reality” shows where so much is planned to give the reaction the producer desires. It also demonstrates how hard the competition is on the emotions of the contestants.

Believable characters plunged in the middle of unreal television scenes may be an eye-opener for some readers. Harlow’s strong faith and Blake’s search for authentic love is a strong theme in the story, strengthening the appeal for me.

This contemporary romance kept me interested from beginning to end.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Pizzini Confectioners in Civil War Richmond

by Sandra Merville Hart

Pizzini’s Confectionery Palace, located at 807 Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, was known as the “Napoleon of Confectioners” by 1852. Famous among city residents for delicious ice creams, Pizzini’s also sold cakes, candy, and fruit.

Advertisements in Richmond’s Daily Dispatch from November 15, 1873 show that Pizzini’s sold Havana oranges, Lisbon grapes, figs, and wine jelly. Malaga grapes were 50 cents a pound. Dates were 25 cents for 2 pounds. Pizzini’s advertised “cocoanut” (coconut) cream candy and “cocoanut” caramels.

The same edition showed they did have competition. Wood & Son’s mineral water depot seemed to specialize in hot soda water. Apparently, the ladies’ favorite was hot soda water with chocolate and cream. It was available with coffee, tea, cream, or chocolate. Healthy, delicious hot soda and chocolate—advertised as recommended by physicians—was only 10 cents a glass.

There were several confectioners, restaurants, and bakeries in Richmond during the Civil War (1861-65.) Some are listed simply under the owner’s name. You may notice a number of female owners in the group.

Here are a few of the confectioners: Mrs. Kate Taylor, confectionary; A. Pizzini, confectionery; Antoni & Catogni, confectioners; Jas Lombardi, confectioner; and Mary Kumpner, confectioner.

Besides the dining rooms of the hotels, there were several restaurants: Tom Griffin, restaurant; John Macpherson, restaurant; “Brandy Station” Restaurant; Phillip White, restaurant; John A. Worsham, restaurant; Manassas Hall, restaurant; Planters’ Eating House; and “Star Saloon,” restaurant.

There were a few bakers: Jefferson Powers, baker; R. Adam, baker; _____ McNaughter, baker; and Ragland & Co., bakers, among others.

Pizzini’s was one of the businesses damaged by fire when the Confederate government evacuated Richmond on April 2, 1865. As the 1873 newspaper ads show, they recovered to thrive once again.



“Daily Dispatch, Volume 45, Number 120, 15 November 1873,” Virginia Chronicle, 2021/02/03——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——–.

“Details of the Evacuation, April 8, 1865,” The New York Times, 2021/02/03

“From the Richmond Examiner, 2/22/1866,” Civil War Richmond, 2021/02/03

“From the Richmond Whig, 4/15/1865,” Civil War Richmond, 2021/02/03

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

“Pizzini Celebration at Slash Cottage,”, 2021/02/03

Civil War Women: Rebecca Littlepage Thwarts a General

by Sandra Merville Hart

Confederate General Henry Wise replaced Colonel Christopher Tompkins as commander of the Kanawha forces. Marching from Richmond, he arrived in Kanawha County on June 26, 1861. Wise soon stayed in Kanawha House Hotel’s best room.

Fort Sumter had been fired upon two and half months earlier.

The small Virginia town of Charleston was of strategic importance to Wise. He decided to claim a stone mansion surrounded by a thousand acres of farmland as his headquarters.

He should have run the idea by the lady of the house, Mrs. Rebecca Littlepage.

Confederate troops camped near a farm owned by the Littlepage family. Soldiers used the farm’s grain, sugar, bacon, molasses, and horses.

Wise strode to the home and told Mrs. Littlepage he intended to take her mansion as his headquarters. The spunky woman refused to release her home. The general threatened to blow the house down.

He returned with artillery. A crowd followed. Rebecca stood on the front step with her children around her. Wise told her to leave. She refused.

The general ordered his soldiers-some of them family friends—to fire upon the house. The men refused his command. Wise left that day.

Instead of taking over the home, his soldiers camped on the family’s property. Fort Fife, a one-hundred-square foot fort, was built on a hill overlooking the stone mansion. The location gave wonderful views of the Kanawha Turnpike, its junction with the road to Parkersburg, and the James River.

Adam Littlepage, Rebecca’s husband, became the quartermaster officer of the 21st Virginia. He died in a duel and never returned to the stone mansion home that his wife fought so bravely to preserve.


Egnatoff, Daniel et. al. “Littlepage Mansion-Charleston Civil War Trail.” Clio: Your Guide to History. September 19, 2019. Accessed February 1, 2021.

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.


The Spy of the Rebellion by Allan Pinkerton

by Sandra Merville Hart

Being A True History of the Spy System of the United States Army During the Late Rebellion

Allan Pinkerton had established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency before the Civil War. General George McClellan hired Pinkerton, who used his detectives to spy on the Confederates.

This book reads like a fiction novel. The book was published in 1883, and Pinkerton’s formal ties to the United States Secret Service ended in 1862. Pinkerton also admits that most of his records were burned in the Great Chicago Fire and he wrote the book from memory. The passage of 21 years since the events as well as the loss of precious written records led to some inconsistencies.

I read this to research Pinkerton’s agency for a novel I’m writing. Subsequent research from nonfiction sources have referenced Pinkerton’s The Spy of the Rebellion as part fiction. I’ve learned from other sources which provide specific names and dates not to trust all the details in this book.

Either way, I must say that this is a fascinating story that I couldn’t put down. The author tells an enthralling story. It’s true to the language, customs, and beliefs of the period and is well worth the read.