Blog Book Tour | “Becoming George Washington” by Stephen Yoch

Posted Friday, 1 January, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Becoming George Washington” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Becoming George Washington” direct from the author Stephen Yoch, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Interest in reading:

I garnished an appreciation for the Revolutionary War era from my Mum, who is a passionate researcher and reader about the Adams: John and Abigail along with Mr Adams friendship with Thomas Jefferson. They were a unique couple during those turbulent times, and as my Mum’s affection for them grew, so too did my own interest in the era as a whole. When I was younger, History was one of my most favourite subjects in school (shocking, eh? you were thinking I’d say ‘English’ but you would be grossly mistaken!) as I definitely loved watching ‘history’ come to life through the stories of the people who lived lives during historical eras of prime importance and of lesser known generations of whom impacted us just as deeply or gravely, depending on the circumstances.

If you were to credit me with a deep admiration for Science and the multitude of ‘ologies’ I fancy to explore in the scientific realms – you’d be equally cheerful to learn that I have a wicked heart for the historical past, and why it took me three decades of my life to unearth that ‘historical fiction and biographical historical fiction’ are my two primary interests to read is quite unnerving to say the least! Mind you, science fiction and fantasy are a close second before Romance takes up the final third quadrant. I digress.

One of my intentions this New Year of 2016 is to purposely find mindful ways of re-organising my focuses on what I am devouring as to entertain a bit more thought to seeking out wicked good non-fiction and historical fiction (in equal portions) that ascertain a working knowledge of the Revolutionary War era or even (Early) Colonial America inasmuch as entreating inside more biographies which are set to a pace where I find them both drinkable and enjoyable to consume. At hand, when I first caught sight of this novel about Washington, I was most keen to read it, as Washington held an appeal when I was in 4th Grade having spent a year on Presidential History (some of which spilt out as I reviewed The Residence in 2015). I even have a miniature statue of Washington and Martha – as they were the first couple I was focusing on learning more about at that age.

I even remember watching an interesting tv movie called: The Crossing (1999) starring Jeff Daniels as Washington, as pertaining to the crossing of the Delaware River in December 1776. Equally to this, I caught portions of 1776 (1972) the musical on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) a handful of years ago over Fourth of July weekend, to where I would very much like to see it in full as soon as time allows. It was curious to see all of the historical persons I’ve come to know through my school years and my own independent readings outside of it in such a way as to purport the era in time by which they lived.

This particular novel takes us back to the young man Washington was prior to marriage and I was curious to learn more about him during that scope of time. Every man has a beginning to their lives, but in Washington’s case, everything prior to when he became the ‘first President’ is even more curious as how did a man define himself prior to taking office for a new ‘country’ emerging out of independence from the British Crown and right his sails well enough to take on the courage he would need to lead a fragile new era of American life?

I was very grateful the author enclosed a small and compact bookmark for this novel, as I used it once before as I read ‘Soda Springs’ (review) prior to residing inside his own. I had originally intended to read them earlier in the weeks proceeding my tour stops in December, but illness took me away from books and left me with only my curiosity of what I would find inside them. The blessing for me, is to have such a handy bookmark and to have a note from the author wishing me godspeed in my readings. A nice surprise for a book blogger and a nice extension of the readings.

Blog Book Tour | “Becoming George Washington” by Stephen YochBecoming George Washington
by Stephen Yoch
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

George Washington, action hero . . .

Long before Washington was the old man on the dollar bill, he was a fatherless boy with few resources and even less education. So how did he become the most famous person in American history?

Becoming George Washington tells the story of a young man with boundless energy, bravery, and passion, who grew from a fatherless boy into a self-confident leader. At the same time, he struggled to suppress both an awful temper and his love for a married woman, Sally Fairfax. A courageous war hero, Washington rose to the pinnacle of Virginia politics. His experiences as a young man allowed him, decades later, to lead the Revolution.

This compelling historical novel reveals the person behind the famous face and how he grew to become America’s leading Founding Father.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Presidential Life & History, War Drama

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781940014524

Published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing

on 1st September, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 382

Published By: Wise Ink Creative Publishing (@Wiseink)
Available Formats: Paperback & Ebook

About Stephen Yoch

Steve doesn’t golf or fish and is a below average hunter, but his love of history and writing compelled him to pick up his pen and tell the little-known stories behind the men that made American history. After years of extensive research, Steve wrote his first book on young George Washington.

Steve lives in a suburb north of St. Paul, Minnesota with his supportive wife and two fantastic teenage sons. He graduated with honors from Boston College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has enjoyed over two decades of practicing law in the Twin Cities, helping individuals and businesses solve complex problems.

Additional bits of information and appendixes:

Yoch gave the lay reader a bevy of additions to appreciate in this historical novel, as the context is precipitated by his Author’s Historical Note to denote where the changes in modern language divert a bit inside his story and where historical accuracy was both his prime attention and one in which he took liberty when needed. There’s a Family Tree for Washington and a historical map of Washington’s footmarks Northwest of Mt. Vernon, as pertaining to the routes of battle. The story begins at Fort Necessity and you can clearly see where this was located on the map, and can gauge distance and latitude of where Washington was during this bottle of time.

In the back of the novel is a secondary Author’s Note, a Bibliography of his research pursuits, Biographical Sketches of the key ‘characters’ within the novel, extensive notes that re-direct from the narrative itself and an impressive Reader’s Inquisitive Guide of Enquiries after the reading is commenced. These additions remind me why I love the P.S. Edition of HarperCollins releases, as they give readers more girth to their reading lives and more information directly pertaining to the stories and subjects therein. It’s lovely to see an Indie Author go to such lengths to create a book that is dimensionally consuming and respective of it’s era.

My review of Becoming George Washington:

The indecisive clouding of his confidence in the opening bits of the Prologue, dearly reminded me of The Crossing as timing was one of Washington’s most vexing veins of personal guilt. To take action or to remain patient for a better moment to take the necessary actions to gain forward traction were what parlayed on his mind not only in the film, but this installment of his fictional accountment and others I’ve read previously. It goes to his state of mind, to be focused solely on the good of man and of the men especially under his charge; to guide and to seek a way forward during a time of war where the future loomed at a great distance and nothing was certain at all. Washington was on the brink of surrendering when all hope felt lost and all logical sense of the world dissolved in the disappearance of his men to the carnals of the war as they fell where they stood; dead and remembered by their leader.

Transitioning backwards, to entreat on Washington as a younger lad, Yoch reveals something I was unfamiliar with about Washington’s Mum, Mary: she was as independent as Abigail in both child rearing, household accounts and surviving in a man’s world by the grit of a determined woman bent on making it on her terms without the need to wait for a man to rise her up from the ashes. Her strength and her moxie I am sure were equal to Abigail’s in many regards; people were not used to such freedoms and confidence in women, and it was a refreshing bit of insight that strikes glimpses into why Washington and Adams perhaps felt akin to each other enough to work as President and Vice President at a time where trust was imperative. They were equally accepting of strong women and the independent spirit of survival.

Washington’s young mind was encouraged to continue his learning and lessons wherever he found himself befitting a conversation with someone whose attainment of knowledge might enlarge his own understandings. Whilst he was a young surveyor under tutelage of a Scot, he was able to survey the Fairfax estate which at that point in time was in the ‘million’ of acres near the Potomac! Imagine such an expanse? The wilds of America were still untamed and most of the land was loosely configured by acres but not by proper estimates of size and proportion of dimension. I appreciated seeing his youthful fanciful zest for learning; especially regarding frontier living and life out in the wilds. He was constantly evolving in his understanding of how to live but also, how to thrive. A good lesson to have properly learnt so young as his years were back then.

Despite himself, Washington was enthralled with the natural world – he was delighted by the woods and the wildlife, even though at the time, he was most concerned about his station and his future. He wanted to carve out his mark, but his mark was difficult when weighed against the bidding’s of his mother of whom wanted him to work for her own needs rather than to follow his own path. She might have had spunk but it was limited a bit to seeking to control his future. Lawrence provided a friendship and a guidance towards what might alleviate his concerns therein but Washington was setting his mind and sights on how to better himself and his security. The surprise for him was during the drudge of surveying he found his happiness in the depths of nature; the stillness of it and the peaceful luring of it’s rhythms. I must admit, even my own natural world yearnings were happily piqued during these instances, because Yoch presented how Virgina looked prior to setting up the foundations of where Washington, DC now resides; how everything was raw and virgin without the spoiling of progress.

In the opening of Chapter 10, Yoch reveals an exchange between Lawrence and Washington; unfortunately at the ending of Lawrence’s life in which he encourages his brother to seize the moment of his days and to live his life as fullest as he can within the hours he’s given to live. It’s a moment of bravery and brotherly honesty; yet it also pointed to Yoch’s intentions behind his copyright Carpe Diem Publishing and why my copy was enscribed with the declaration as well. It was a nod towards Lawrence’s will to strengthen his brother’s resolve but to also, ignite a fevered passion to experience life as well as you can whilst your alive to do so.

It was during a play where Washington was besotted by his married friend’s (Will) wife, Sally; of whom, her father-in-law was his mentor and benefactor. The set-up for their folly was not illogical if you consider, Will was not as affable in self-confidence nor in conveying a sophisticated appreciation for life outside what was expected of him. Will played it safe, whereas Washington set his own rules even within the confines of where his life was set as a surveyor; he had a few freedoms by salary and by proxy of conviction. Will on the other hand, stood too close to tradition and was not a self-starter; thus Washington upturnt the tables; opening a door towards giving Sally a suitor to pay attention too. I am not sure if Washington ever gave honest thought to where his musings would take him but rather, he was smitten by a woman who took his breath and soul away with her presence.

Like acts in a play, the die is cast in portions of Washington’s life within the pages of Becoming Washington as each new section provides another measure of his life’s ambition and quest towards bettering his tomorrows against his present.

War had taken a keen effect on Washington, as being a leader was a greater toll on his soul than he imagined could be possible. There is an extensive section about what happens at Fort Necessity and the choices Washington makes for himself and his men. This is the portion where the narrative takes on the full scope of a war drama whilst revealling how leaders during war must make choices in battle that wear on their souls long after the battles are over.

Although this chapter of his living history was meant to be focusing on his choices as both a coming-of age young man and the growth he went through as a leader on the battlefield – I found it a more minor exploration of his attraction to Sally Fairfax, as if it were a notation of a footnote rather than the full focus of the story itself. His life was rife with stress – both family-driven and obligation in society, he was living in an age of great change, watching a country form right before his eyes and wearied from the experiences he sustained. It is only in the ending chapters that we gain a bit more knowledge about their connection to each other, as I found this more of a story of a man growing into his own skin and owning the fact his sense of duty was greater than his need for personal happiness. He put honour and duty over personal gain, and his loyalty to both his family and country were paramount.

His indiscretions and his unresolved issues with temperament notwithstanding, Washington was a man of a vision for a more ideal country where man and government could broker a balance with each other. He fought to have the chance to define what a country could do for it’s people but in the midst of doing so, he lost a portion of who he was as a man. Except for when he found his truer equal in Martha; a woman of independent means, young children and a breadth of hope for a compliment to his stewardship and leadership.

On the writing style and voicing of Washington by Yoch:

I found Yoch to have a clear voice for Washington, where he felt as if he could talk quite lively with you through the words inked on the pages – Washington was both quick to anger and mildly introspective depending on his moods but also what was happening to him whilst he felt his emotions boiling stronger than normal. He was quick to learn how to temper his aggression as in order to live and to lead a life as a gentleman, he had to find a middle ground on his angst. I hadn’t known some of the background about Mt Vernon (being of a holding of his brother Lawrence’s) nor of how his natural bourne earnest desire to seek a way to carve out his own path was due to the sorrow of losing his father too young.

Yoch gives you the internal clues towards understanding Washington’s mindset but also, by adding in dialogue which could very well have been spoken; we gain a foothold in how Washington grew and matured. He was an apt listener apparently and took in what was said to him in both confidence and earnest advice; giving a measure of will towards changing his perspective if needed or at least, agreeing a secondary course could be sought. Yoch allows Washington the grace of youth and by doing so, enables us to see Washington as a young man attempting to grow into his wings of maturity.

(A small) Fly in the Ointment:

The only dis-conjoining bits that I found (if you can call this a wrinkle of a brow as I read) were the usage of idioms that may or may not have fit well with the 1700s wherein we met Washington. I ran a few searches for the phrases, finding them to adhere more to entrance in the late 1800s or thereabouts; something that doesn’t necessary deter me from my readings but occasionally can distort my impression of a timescape.

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The Virtual Road Map for “Becoming George Washington” can be found here:

{ click-through to follow the tour & find more reader’s impressions! my review was delayed due to a virus I came down with in early December that simply would not let me go until New Year. Blessedly the author and HFVBTs were patient whilst I recovered and could share my ruminative thoughts slightly outside of the blog tour. }

Becoming George Washington blog tour via HFVBTs.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on behalf of this review. Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read on a blog tour.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Becoming George Washington”, book synopsis, author biography, the tour host badge & were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

I am a social reader, tweeting as I read:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 1 January, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Early Colonial America, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, George Washington, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Military Fiction, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Passionate Researcher, Presidential Life & History, Revolutionary War Era, Revolutionary War era, Siblings, Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama, Wilderness Adventures

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