Recent Posts

Posted in 19th Century Art Reviews

review: The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper Abigail “May” Alcott, sister of Louisa May Alcott, is followed in this fictional biography which takes place in the 1870’s in Boston, London and Paris. May, whom Louisa had fictionalized as “Amy” in her Little Women series, had received negative reviews of her illustrations included in the books, and as such set out to improve her skills by taking classes for lady artists. When the opportunity arose, she set off for Europe to take advantage of the superior learning environment and instructors. Louisa continually called May home when she became exhausted with caring for their ailing mother. This rankled May, as she had finally begun making a living with her art and felt Louisa, who had the money for…

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Posted in 20th Century Reviews WWII

review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In general I am not one to reread books–with the exception of audiobook versions. In this case, I was prompted to pick Guernsey up a second time because I caught the trailer for the new film and it intrigued me (I loved Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies). When I read this book some 8 years ago, I remember coming away from it so blown away that I couldn’t even pen a credible review–and I have recommended it heavily since. It tends to be my go-to literary gift, and the book I guide readers to when asked for great historical reads. One of the things I remember from my first experience is that the main author, Mary Ann Shaffer, sadly passed away before…

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Posted in 20th Century Giveaways

eBook giveaway: The Beginning by Urban Vyaas

This giveaway is for a Kindle eBook copy, and is open until June 30, 2018. Leave a comment to enter. The Beginning: A Multicultural Tale of Transformation by Urban Vyaas Book Description: On June 16, 1914, journalist Alec Bannon and his young wife, Millie Bloom, meet an Inuit called Piugaattoq (also known as Minik Wallace) at the Museum of Natural Science of New York where Minik’s father’s bones are on display. Minik hires the services of a Chinese tong and a Voodoo priest to assist him in revengefully replacing his father’s remains with those of the museum director’s deceased father. The Bannons, freshly accredited at New York, make a report about it and soon afterward they’re entangled in a web of intrigues that surrounds the…

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Posted in 20th Century America Guest Post

guest post: Terrence McCauley on the history behind The Fairfax Incident

I had several reasons for setting THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT in 1933 New York City. The first reason is that I love history in general and New York City history in particular. The thousands of tourists who visit my hometown every year might be shocked to hear that New York doesn’t have much of a history when compared to other world centers, but it’s true. Much of our history is relatively new, from the 1770s at the earliest, whereas London, Paris and Rome have histories that go back a thousand years, maybe more. Very little, if anything, remains of the original Dutch settlers who called New Amsterdam their home. The windmills are gone, so are the tracts of land they farmed and the malaria-filled swamp of…

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Posted in Giveaways WWII

giveaway: The Room on Rue Amelie

THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE by Kristin Harmel For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II. When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too. Charlotte Dacher…

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Posted in Author Guest Post

guest post: The Heroic Bean Counter

Guest Post by author Philip K. Allan When the Queen Elizabeth class of Dreadnoughts were launched they were the most powerful warships afloat. The capital ships built during the arms race that proceeded WW1 divided into two broad categories. The majority of them consisted of heavily armoured, but slow, battleships. Dashing ahead of them into battle was the second type, fast, but poorly protected, battle cruisers. The Royal Navy were the first to realise that there was a way to combine these two ships into a class of fast battleships. If you built a Dreadnought that was big enough, it would be possible to have a ship that had both impressive speed and excellent protection, and so the Queen Elizabeths were born. These ships were…

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Posted in Guest Post New Books

guest post: Who Owns the Stories

Guest post by Hilary Shepherd, author of In a Foreign Country, Animated Baggage, and Albi. “Albi is nine years old when Franco’s soldiers arrive in the village and his life begins to change in confusing ways. It’s not clear quite who should be trusted and who should not. Some neighbours disappear not to be seen again, others are hidden from view in cellars and stables – like his brother, Manolo, who left long ago to join the resistance. Albi is charged with shepherding not just his own sheep, but also those of El Ciego who sends him on errands requiring a good memory and the ability to keep his mouth shut at all times. Alberto, at 88, is haunted by what he did and what…

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Posted in 17th Century Author Guest Post

guest post: The Most Famous Author You’ve Never Heard Of

Guest post by Hester Velmans, author of Slipper. He is the man who wrote some of the most famous stories of our time, but his name doesn’t ring a bell. He lived a full century before the Brothers Grimm and two hundred years before Hans Christian Anderson. And yet if you ask around if anyone has heard of “Charles Perrault”, you’re likely to be met with blank stares. That was the reaction I would get when I told people I was writing a novel about a young woman living in the 17th Century whose life could have been the inspiration for Charles Perrault’s most famous fairy tale. I don’t know how I came to the assumption that Perrault was a household name; I only know…

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Posted in Guest Post

guest post: Navy Blue by Philip K. Allan

Navies throughout the world wear basically the same uniform. Dark blue for temperate and full dress with a white variant for warmer climates. Whichever version is worn, it will be decorated with buttons and badges that feature an anchor. It is so universally true, that it hardly attracts notice. It is only when you stop to think about it that you realise how unusual it is. Consider army uniforms. The advent of the breach loading rifle may have forced all soldiers into some variety of green or brown, but before that the armies of the world wore all the colours of the rainbow. During the Napoleonic wars, for example, the French and Prussians mainly wore blue, the Swiss red, the Russians green, the Austrians white,…

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Posted in 20th Century America Depression Era Reviews

review: Bonnie & Clyde : Dam Nation

Bonnie & Clyde: Dam Nation Book 2 by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall In this second installment of Hays & McFall’s Bonnie & Clyde series, the dynamic duo find themselves in Boulder City, Nevada at the site of the Hoover Dam (then styled Boulder Dam), with orders from the ever persistent government official, Sal, to discover the source of apparent sabotage to the enormous structure. The budding labor union, foreign anarchists, supposed communists, and the Las Vegas-based mob are all on the long list of suspects, and in order to ingratiate themselves into the inner workings of the community, “Clarence” and “Brenda” must do the unthinkable: hold down good, honest jobs as a cover for their spy ring. Meanwhile, Bonnie Parker’s parallel story in 1984…

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Posted in 20th Century America Post WWII Reviews

review: While You Were Mine

While You Were Mine by Ann Howard Creel This story opens upon the protagonist, nurse Gwen Mullen, finding herself the subject of the famous LIFE magazine image that is so well known–the V-J Day sailor kiss–although this inclusion has little to do with the storyline, other than setting the tone and some other small details later. Gwen lives with a roommate, Alice, and had been helping her care for her newborn daughter for 6 weeks. Alice, suffering from what we now call postpartum depression, inexplicably packs her things and disappears, leaving the baby with Gwen. Baby Mary’s father was believed to be either missing in action or killed in the war, and with no information on other family members, Gwen had to make the choice…

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Posted in Guest Post

guest post: Latitude by Philip K. Allan

Use some mapping software, like Google Earth, centre yourself on the middle of the Pacific Ocean and zoom out. A planet will appear that you can barely recognise. From that angle our world is almost entirely blue, save for a scatter of islands across the face of the deep. The continents of the Americas and Asia appear only as a fringe of land around the edge, and even Australia and New Zealand barely intrude. Yet in 1743 Admiral George Anson, aboard HMS Centurion, set out into this unimaginable vastness to hunt down a single Spanish ship. She was the Nuestra Senora de Convadonga, better known as the Acapulco galleon, and each year she travelled between the Spanish Philippines and Mexico. She was also the richest…

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