Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Reading Radar 5/31/2014

Spotted this one on Netgalley and MUST HAVE. You know I love those lady soldiers stories. I am wondering though how this will compare to the recent I Shall Be Near To You. This publisher rarely disappoints me.

Neverhome: A NovelAn extraordinary novel about a wife who disguises herself as a man and goes off to fight in the Civil War.

She calls herself Ash, but that's not her real name. She is a farmer's faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. NEVERHOME tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.

Laird Hunt's dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?

In gorgeous prose, Hunt's rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.


GoddessGoddess by Kelly Gardiner. Doesn't appear to be in hard copy here, but it is on Kindle. Spotted on my Goodreads feed and now on my wishlist. 

Versailles, 1686: Julie d'Aubigny, a striking young girl taught to fence and fight in the court of the Sun King, is taken as mistress by the King's Master of Horse. Tempestuous, swashbuckling and volatile, within two years she has run away with her fencing master, fallen in love with a nun and is hiding from the authorities, sentenced to be burnt at the stake. Within another year, she has become Mademoiselle de Maupin, a beloved star at the famed Paris OpĂ©ra. Her lovers include some of Europe's most powerful men and France's most beautiful women. Yet Julie is destined to die alone in a convent at the age of 33. 

Based on an extraordinary true story, this is an original, dazzling and witty novel - a compelling portrait of an unforgettable woman. 

For all those readers who love Sarah Dunant, Sarah Waters and Hilary Mantel.


Luna Tango (Dance Card #1)Spotted on NG and want very badly, but it's not available here, not even on Kindle: Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair. It first caught my interest because of the cover. The woman looks like a flamenco dancer, which interests me very much. FYI, there is actually a "tango" in flamenco. Anyway, hoping I can get my hands on this book and also hoping the author does a flamenco story. 

Tango, like love, is complicated

Journalist Dani McKenna delves into the world of tango to expose the decades of lies and deception that threaten three generations of her family. She’s desperate to understand the reason her mother abandoned her twenty years ago to become a world-class tango dancer, why her grandma lives in fear of all things tango, and how the brutal murder of a tango music legend in 1950s Buenos Aires now affects her family.

Dani meets the enigmatic Carlos Escudero, a revered tango dancer and man of intense passion, who helps her unravel tango’s sordid history. Despite Dani’s lack of rhythm, they create their own dance of the souls until the differences in their cultures causes a deep rift. As she seeks to reconnect with Carlos and rebuild her family, tango – the dance of passion – becomes a complicated dance of betrayal.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Unsung Heroes: The Story of America's Female PatriotsThis was a documentary that aired very recently on PBS. It honors women in the American military from the Revolutionary War to present-day female veterans who served in Iraq.

I learned some fascinating stuff from this one...

Margaret Corbin was a woman who followed her husband to war (Revolutionary). She helped him load the cannon and when he was hurt in duty, she took over for him completely and ended up crippled with half her face blown off. She was buried outside the chapel at West Point.

Women were in the Navy as early as WWI. The Waves were created for women to take on-shore jobs, freeing men to go to sea. Meanwhile, Hello Girls were created for the Army. It's an interesting tale here...they were actually created to work the communications because the higher-ups stationed in Europe complained the operators in France were too slow. These women had to be bilingual--speak English and French.

I knew the Army had the WACS and the WASPS. I knew about the WAVES, but I did not know the Coast Guard had its own group of women: the SPARS. Someone needs to write a novel about them. A woman CG member informs us she was on a ship with a call sign that meant "no damn women aboard". Imagine working your way around that. Matter of fact, in part two, they get more into the Coast Guard thing and it wasn't until 1977, when Jimmy Carter made it an issue, that they allowed women at sea. Even in the more modern age, the men said women on ships was bad luck. 

Nurses really paved the way for women in the military and combat situations. As the documentary states, whether a woman is actually in combat or not, she's in danger, so why have the anti-combat law in the first place. Countless women have been killed from just following in the medical corps, having their medical black hawks shot down, being in convoys, etc. And in the early days, this work--nursing--was VOLUNTARY. 

Many woman veterans are not receiving the help they need and are homeless, especially after getting out of the military where they had equal pay. It's a shock to discover they only receive 70 cents to the man's dollar in the Civilian world. Sadly, they bring children into homelessness with them.

Until recently (actually, I imagine this is still a fear), admitting you had a mental health issue could be the end of your career.
Women Marines, 1943

It wasn't until after Vietnam that women demanded and received Veteran's services.

Linda Bray was the first woman to lead troops into battle (Panama).

Part two gets into my favorite thing: the WASP and Nicole Malachowski--the USAF's first female Thunderbird--reveals the 411 on those fine ladies. I really like her. I even have her autograph from an air show. I stood there like a little kid waiting for it. LOL So I was pleased to see her on here. She talks about how she wanted to be a fighter pilot as early as five years old (so did I!) but it was illegal for women to fly combat aircraft at the time. Those restrictions were not lifted until 1991.
Nicole Malachowski

The rest of part two talks a lot about women POWs and especially the Philippine (Bataan) situation during WWII. I've read about this before, but seeing the video footage of these men and women starved...just blew my mind. I became so riveted to the screen during these stories, I failed to take notes. You'll have to watch it for yourself, ladies.

The documentary goes back and forth between modern-day women soldiers sharing their experiences from helicopter crashes to attempted rape on Arab bases to photos and video of women in WWI, II, Vietnam,'s worth your time. I feel it also serves as a superb reminder to all...that women secured your freedom too. Honor those ladies, always.

Watch for this one on your local PBS station or buy the DVD.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes, Loretta Nyhan

The other girls were a candy box assortment--plump and thin, brunette and blonde, tall and short, but they all looked like they knew where the world had wanted them to go, but ran in the opposite direction as soon as they got the chance.

Empire Girls
I didn't love this book, didn't hate it either. There's nothing deep here, no major revelation, but it does pass the time.

It just isn't what I was hoping for after enjoying I'll Be Seeing You so much.

It's the twenties. There's a LOT of drinking. Except for all the drinking and the speakeasy and lingo, it doesn't have a twenties feel. It doesn't scream TWENTIES, if that makes sense. I wasn't really transported to another time and place.

Two sisters who start and end with completely different and somewhat not explained personality changes are searching for a brother they never knew about until their father's passing...and this brother can determine their future. The sisters have a strange love/hate relationship, but if I had to spend 21, 22 years in another's constant presence, I can imagine that's inevitable. Frankly, both of these girls would get on my nerves. Ivy is too self-absorbed and selfish and Rose is a stick in the mud and a kiss-up at first, until she seems to become an alcoholic. LOL

"I hurried out of bed, flew down the stairs and then brought his bedtime tea back up. "Here you are, Papa. See, I will always bring your tea..."


Thankfully she changes, but still...

What I do like about this story is how it touches on the NYers who went to WWI and ended up trapped for a week (The Lost Battalion, Argonne) without food in France while their own fellow Americans shot at them. Sad. And these men came back and many of them were emotionally compromised and put into institutions or sleeping homeless in the park... I was so interested in this lost battalion, I did more research on my own and there was so much the authors could have done here, perhaps have the brother as a narrator, telling his story too? The soldiers even had to use pigeons to get messages out of their area. Frankly, I didn't think there was enough to this story to warrant double narratives, but if they'd added the brother's story...after all the story is supposed to be about these girls looking for their missing brother, but there is so very little really of that drama, compared to the romance and drinking and other characters in the house who don't really hold major roles. 

Overall, the story felt rushed. The timeline was crazy too. At times it read as if a week had passed and a few pages later, days, and a few pages later, three weeks, and later, two weeks. I like a set timeline and this irritated me. I also thought, partly because of the cover--looks like some weird stage thing going on there--that there would be some theater life, some side story here about acting or vaudeville or something, and there wasn't. Even the ladies' jobs...not much detail about that. I mean, just WHEN does Rose do any housekeeping? Yes, I'd say there was a serious lack of details in this story. I think that's what was missing for me. And where were the other ladies of the house? Why didn't the sisters ask them about their brother? There were four ladies in the attic and three downstairs? That doesn't make sense.

Funny quote from Nell:
"Terrible place, the country. Full of misfits and heathens pretending to be Christians. Humans forget to be human when they aren't surrounded by comparisons."

I received this via Netgalley. Quotes may be different in the final book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War

"I was bent upon showing I was as good as any man."

I love the way this documentary was done/filmed. It's not just historians nattering away about what they read/know, with a few old photos shown here and there. It's a mixture of a woman's narrative, narrating parts from Loretta's autobiography, The Woman in  Battle, and reenactments of Loretta's life from childhood to marriage to motherhood to war.

With, of course, the occasional historian and photo appropriate to the time period. There's only one known photograph of Loretta herself and even that is in doubt.

Don't know who I'm talking about? I'll tell ya the gist of it. Loretta Janeta Velazquez was born into a wealthy Cuban family and sent to the States to become a proper lady. Instead of becoming a proper lady, Loretta married a man her family didn't approve of (her best friend's boyfriend), and upon being widowed and losing her two daughters (a third stillborn), she cut off all her hair, donned her dead husband's uniform, and fought for the Confederacy, as a man.

What's strange to me, however, and sadly not explained in this documentary--it's said the reasons for her actions were not made clear--is why was a Cuban woman who wasn't even really accepted as a Southern lady, fighting to enslave others?

Though the well-to-do white Cubans did their share of slave owning, not unlike Puerto Rico. And much ado was made about how "white" or how "colored" a person of Latin descent was. Ladies in society even went so far as to pay a lot of money to prove their ancestry was "untouched" by those of darker complexions.

And the documentary does state that the city of New Orleans, where she spent her growing-up years sided with the South even though they weren't slave owners.

Even crazier, in order to be accepted by the white slave owners she was fighting alongside, Loretta bought a slave of her own--Bob. She had to enslave another, in order to explore her own freedom.

There are a lot of things about Loretta that seem contradictory. She's a hard one to figure out. But one thing is for certain: she's a fascinating woman in history who did some brave things, from fighting in the battle of Bull Run to publishing her memoirs at the risk of being publicly declared a fraud to helping with the Cuban Revolution. Did I mention she defected to the North? That put her back in my good graces. LOL

She was even wounded four times, hiding the wounds and averting treatment, in order to hide her sex. She did this until caught in 1863, when she was forced to go from soldier to spy and then became a double agent, having had her eyes open to war and what was really going on behind the battle lines.

A great documentary about an interesting woman. I do wish it had been longer. It's a mere hour, though an intriguing one.

I bought this DVD on PBS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Scent of Murder (Dr. Dody McCleland #3) by Felicity Young

The Scent of Murder (Dr Dody McCleland, #3)Yet another awesome installment in this series. I liked this one even more than the last. In this story, my favorite historical medical examiner is on a vacation that goes terribly awry…in the form of a set of bones, a lord up to no good with the ladies, and a workhouse where bad things are happening to poor children. It’s Dr. Dody to the rescue.

And we mustn’t forget about Pike. Her love interest, the inspector, is back, and with him he brings the early days of gun forensics/ballistics. It’s obvious to me that the author did a massive amount of research for this story and I appreciate it. I love to learn new things while being entertained and this book did not disappoint. I not only learned the early method of ballistics, but also got an eye-opening look at life in the workhouse for unprotected children.

Ms. Young doesn’t stop there though. In this installment she also tackles sexual assault and its aftereffects on the victims.

It’s history, mystery, a pinch of romance, and a dash of education in one exciting novel. And at the heart of it is an incredibly strong and admirable heroine. Please, publisher, keep this series coming, and do continue to make it available to us in the U.S., even if only on Kindle. I enjoyed this immensely. I probably don’t have to add that it is extremely well written, but there you go.

I bought this on Amazon Kindle

Monday, May 26, 2014

Are Actors and Writers Different? – Not So Much: A Guest Post from Leisl Leighton

In my previous life, before I had kids and turned to writing as my creative outlet, I worked in theatre and cabaret. I was a performer, actor, stage manager, tour manager, script writer and musical director. I even ended up owning and running my own Theatre Restaurant for a while. But despite having done all that, the questions I most get asked when people find out about what I used to do is, does being an actor help you to write?

The answer to that question is: ‘no’. I know plenty of actors who couldn’t write if their life depended on it. They’re brilliant with other people’s words, but the thought of creating their own – they’d rather shove a hot poker in their eye. And I know plenty of writers who would tussle with the actor for the hot poker rather than get up in front of other people and perform. Or even talk. However, having been and actor who now writes, I can tell you that acting and writing are not dissimilar. At least not for me.

You see, the thing is, when I act, I get to be someone else for a little while. I get to do and say things I wouldn’t normally do or say. I get to experience a rush of emotion that comes through me from the audience in response to what my character is doing and it’s like nothing else. When I write, it’s almost exactly the same. I get to be other people and live their lives with them, experience their highs and lows, say and do things I wouldn’t normally say or do as myself – I even get to live in other worlds, perform magic and turn into any creature I can imagine. Okay, I can’t really do the last when I act, but as an actor I can make believe and make the audience come along with me for the journey, so it’s almost the same.

As an actor, I used to sink into the characters I played on the stage and I do something similar when I write, so that I feel they talk through me. Dialogue in particular flies out of my brain and into my fingers and onto the screen, because I don’t sit and think ‘what would my character say here?’ I don’t have to. I am the character. They know what they are going to say and just say it. Both my published novels, Dark Moon and Killing Me Softly, took turns that I never expected because my characters needed to go to places I wouldn’t have gone to personally.

The other thing I find symbiotic between acting and writing that other actors might not have experienced, is that I used to work mostly in cabaret and theatre restaurants, where there is no Fourth Wall. In normal theatre acting, there are the 3 walls of the stage and then an imagined Fourth wall at the front of the stage between the actor and the audience. In cabaret/theatre restaurants, this wall is not there and audience participation is encouraged. The result of this is there can be a lot of going off script. What this does is make you, the actor, have to be fully invested in your performance character so that you can respond to the audience when they call out or are called on to participate in the show as the character. This can create a lot of comedic and deep emotional opportunities that can enrich the show and your performance if you free yourself up to the process. I used to love this unstructured kind of performance – it was a huge adrenaline rush, hugely nerve-wracking, but completely energizing at the same time.
I think my writing style tends to be informed by these experiences, because I often sit down having no idea what is going to happen next and just start typing and see how things turn out. Dark Moon didn’t even start out as a paranormal novel – it was just going to be a contemporary romance. But then my hero kept responding to things in an animalistic way and my heroine manifested powers I never suspected she had – they shocked her too! I could have shut the door on these changes and gone with my original plans, but I learned years ago on the stage to keep open to the ‘yes’ and I can’t help but do the same in my writing. It works for me, and I hope it works for my readers as well.

Dark Moon Blurb:

Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she's being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she's been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale. 

Jason claims to know things about Skye that can't be true, and it's obvious he's hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can't resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.
As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness? 

About the Author.
Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).

After starting a family Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl's stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.

Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dog, Buffy, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She sometimes sings in a choir and works as a swim teacher in her day-to-day job.

Leisl writes paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense.

You can buy Dark Moon here:

And Killing Me Softly here:

You can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website:
Follow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Victoria Vane Takes a Breather from the Devil DeVere to Bring You Hot Cowboy Nights

You've all "met" Victoria Vane. She's one of my favorite authors to host. I was once her editor, before I went back to aviation. I worked with her on her Devil DeVere series and I'm so proud to announce that the lovely lady has made it to the big time, at least in my eyes, and I'm sure yours, too.

I'm just sharing an excerpt and her good news today...coming soon from Sourcebooks Casablana, here is some data and buy links for Hot Cowboy Nights, a series of four romance novels coming your way this November.

SLOW HAND (Hot Cowboy Nights #1) Victoria Vane

He went to work on his shirt buttons. His collar was soon wide open revealing a generous show of muscular chest that made her hands itch to rip it off him. She diverted her gaze and curled her itchy hands by her sides.
“Have no fear, cowboy,” Nikki replied in a tone meant to disguise the warm flush that had come over her. “I corralled all my wild impulses long ago.”
“Did you, now?” He still stood in doorway, head cocked. “Somehow, I think you may have missed a few strays.”
“Maybe I need to make myself clearer. I have an aversion to cocky cowboys.”
Just keep telling yourself that, Nikki. Maybe if you repeat it often enough it’ll become true.
“Is that so?” His brows flew upward. “I can’t say I ever met a woman with an actual aversion to me.”
“Don’t take it personally. It’s nothing against you in particular, but to your type.”
“And what do you think you know about my type?”
“Since I don’t have a pole handy, enough to keep you at arms-length. Besides that, this whole line of conversation is entirely inappropriate in light of professional ethics, don’t you think? You are my attorney, after all.”
“Well, darlin’,” he scratched his unshaven jaw, “there’s a little hitch to that.”
“What do you mean? You said you’d help me.”
“And I will, but you can’t engage my professional services until I know who you are.”
“I’ve told you who I am!” she insisted.
“Sweetheart, I’m a lawyer, and according to the law, your claim don’t weigh without authentication.”
“So what are you saying? That you don’t believe me?”

“I’m not saying that at all. Only that our professional relationship will commence once you get your I.D. In the interim,” His gaze slid over her in a way that threatened to melt her insides, “you’d best find yourself a nice, long, sturdy pole.”

Dying for more? Pre-order your copies NOW. 


Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction received twenty-one reviewer awards and nominations to include Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 and five RONE nominations for The Devil DeVere series, as well as two RONE Finalists for Treacherous Temptations and The Sheik Retold.

Her works range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Look for her hot new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in Fall of 2014.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Reading Radar 5/24/2014

Let's see what struck my fancy this week.... First up, Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke. I've known for some time how the Nazis felt about deaf people...and it's sad, but this story sounds good. It is about a woman who tries to save a deaf girl--I think--from her Nazi father.

Saving AmelieIncreasingly wary of her father's genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany--in the summer of 1939--will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he's as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father's files may hold answers about Hitler's plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems "unworthy of life." She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she's never known.Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young--a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally--who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel's every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife's edge, risking their lives--and asking others to do the same--for those they barely know but come to love.


Searching for Grace KellyOn my wishlist after spotting it on Edelweiss, Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan. The twist about the Manhattan Publishing world really got my interest, but the entire story sounds intriguing.

For a small-town girl with a big dream in 1955, there is no address more glamorous than New York’s Barbizon Hotel. Laura, a patrician beauty from Smith, arrives in its vaunted halls to work at Mademoiselle for the summer. Her hopelessly romantic roommate Dolly comes from a working-class upstate town to attend secretarial school. Vivian, a brash, redheaded British bombshell with a disregard for the hotel’s rules, rounds out the unlikely trio of friends.As the summer wears on, Laura struggles to find her footing in the chic but formidable world of Manhattan publishing while Dolly battles her own demons of self-doubt. Vivian longs to sing at the Stork Club instead of just shilling cigarettes there, but finds herself floundering in more ways than one. Together, the girls embark on a journey of self-discovery that will take them from the penthouse salons of Park Avenue to the Beat scene of Greenwich Village to Atlantic City’s Steel Pier — and into the arms of very different men who will alter their lives forever.


After MidnightSpotted and requested on NG. I love the fact this is by a publisher called SHE WRITES Press.. After Midnight by Diane Shute. 

As far as Alix is concerned, she has no past she only has today, and her plans for the future: raising a dynamic string of racehorses that will take the 1830s British racing world by storm by storm. Enter Lily, Alix s estranged twin sister, spoiled, defiant and recently married for money and social status. As Alix is forced into a position that threatens to alter the course of her future, she begins to remember details about the mysterious events surrounding her father s death when she was a child. When Alix seeks her uncle s help, it sparks his dangerous return to France to reclaim the lives they left behind long ago.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fly Girls: A Documentary About America's WASP

"Half of the brain power in our country is in the heads of its women and if we don't use this to the best of our advantage, then we are the poorer for it."

I thought I knew all there was to know about the WASP (the women who ferried aircraft during WWII. Those of you who follow this blog should know who they are. LOL), having read so many books about them now, but there's always room for more knowledge. Thus, I purchased this DVD from PBS and watched it recently. I have to say, though much of it I've already read about, it was a great pleasure to actually see these ladies on the screen. I not only saw and listened to the older women reminisce, but also viewed old video and footage of them flying, marching, throwing each other in the fountain, running from snakes at Avenger field, everything.

It's so awesome to SEE it, not just read it.

I also learned that in a way, Cochran was the downfall of the WASP. Apparently they could have been militarized had she been willing to be under another woman colonel. This would have been the combining of the WASP with the WAC, but Jackie couldn't stand the idea of being under the command of a woman who "doesn't know her ass from a propeller".

Hum. I'm not a fan of Cochran. But that's funny.

Some facts:

-The WASP flew a total of 60 million miles during their service.
-38 women died.
-They made 3k a year.
-They had "dating lists" by the phone at Camp Davis. One list of men that were okay to date, one list of men who weren't.
-Cornelia Fort was killed by a male pilot who clipped her wing.
-The women stored high-heeled shoes in the wings, where normally bullets went.
-Some went to be test pilots and there was a cool bit about the effects of being at 25,000 feet, of how they couldn't even spell their own name.
-During their 6-month training, they had to do 200 flight hours and 400 ground school hours.
-At least 100 male pilots found mysterious reasons to land at Avenger Field the first week of the WASP training.
-Camp Davis had problems...lots of harassment of the life-threatening sort and discrimination. There was sabotage and sugar was found in a gas tank, but darling Jackie was unwilling to jeopardize her program so kept it quiet.

Some of this I knew, some of it I didn't. Some, I just needed reminders of, but as I said above, you can't beat the real video reels and the photos and oh, the women telling their tales. Even of the B-29 ladies is on this! I especially enjoyed the white-haired lady (the one who flew the B-29) who provided the quote posted above. The videos even show us the simulators they used at Avenger Field.

For the aviation or WWII enthusiast, or even just the feminist, this is a DVD I highly recommend for you.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Indomitable Spirit of Marie Antoinette: A Guest Post from Ginger Myrick

Please welcome Ginger Myrick, who has recently penned a historical horror novel involving one of the most famous queens of France...

Marie Antoinette is often thought of as a victim, and indeed she became a scapegoat for all of France’s ills, but many people don’t realize what a strong woman she actually was. She was daughter to the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, a steely woman and ruler in her own right, who governed her empire with a formidable hand.

The Empress ran her family life with the same no-nonsense attitude, raising her children to be obedient in the extreme and acutely aware of their positions and duties. Maria Antonia was the fifteenth child and youngest girl, and was married into the French royal family at the tender age of fourteen. During these early years of her residence in France, Marie Antoinette was docile and eager to please. She was so overwhelmed at her circumstance—being in a foreign court with strange new rituals and no friends to speak of—that she did all that was asked of her. But eventually she began to chafe at the demands placed upon her and blossomed into her own person.

Four years after her marriage to the Dauphin of France, her husband was made Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette became Queen. In matters of government, after too many occasions when her husband ruled in direct opposition to her suggestions, Marie Antoinette decided to forgo her fruitless dabbling in politics in favor of the personal aspects of her life she could better control. She was now the Queen of France, and no one would dictate her comportment any longer.

For the duration of her residence in France, she had been slave to the strict system of etiquette in place at Versailles. She had never quite understood its necessity and always viewed it, and its enforcer, the Comtesse de Noailles—her Mistress of the Household whom she had mischievously nicknamed Madame Etiquette—with a considerable amount of disdain. The woman had been a necessary evil for a young foreign teenager hard-pressed to learn the new ways of her adopted country, but that rationale no longer applied. The Queen replaced the “old bundle” with her friend, the Princesse de Lamballe, leaving her young circle of intimates with no one to reprimand them. This was the first step toward establishing her own personality—and authority—and she continued to do as she pleased although not always for the sake of pleasure, which is a common misconception.

Marie Antoinette broke with tradition for sake of her children, which was the biggest motivation behind decisions later in her life that some people construed as rebellious. When her first child was born, it turned out to be a girl and not the anticipated Dauphin. The new mother was reported to have said, “Poor little girl. You are not what was desired, but you are no less dear to me.” She went on to prove her devotion to the baby, even managing to nurse the child for a few months after her birth, which was unheard of and absolutely would not have been allowed had the child been male. She took the little girl with her to le Petit Trianon away from the unhealthy air of Versailles as often as she could, and when the keenly awaited Dauphin eventually arrived, she did the same with him. She even played a part in her children’s education, which was also not done with royal offspring.

Then, during the turmoil of the pre-revolutionary years, her husband, Louis XVI, began to suffer from the pressures of his position. He broke down on several occasions and was unable to attend important meetings with opposing factions. Although the Queen had previously been shut out of politics, now that the monarchy was threatened—and the security of her children’s positions within in it—she took the King’s place and did her best, despite her limited knowledge in this complicated sphere of royal responsibility.

Regardless of her noble efforts, the royal family’s lives came under serious threat. When urged by Louis XVI himself to take their children and go, Marie Antoinette refused to leave him. She stayed by his side during the troubles, even separating herself in her apartments at Versailles to reduce the risk to other members of her family when the palace was besieged by an angry mob. As evidence of the people’s hatred of their foreign queen, the rabble slew her guards, broke into her quarters, and hacked her bed to pieces, yet the Queen still had the composure to flee with her two ladies down a secret corridor to the safety of the King’s rooms.

The next morning the revolutionaries escorted the royal family to Paris under the watchful eye of the Garde Nationale. They were now prisoners, but the Queen was still not resigned to their fate. She learned code and continued to correspond with Axel von Fersen and made several plans of escape, unwilling to enact one unless the entire family could go as a unit. Finally they attempted it but were caught 40 miles from their destination and forced to return to Paris, where she continued to work toward preserving the monarchy for her remaining son, Dauphin Louis-Charles.

Eventually, even that slim hope was extinguished. The revolutionaries took Louis-Charles away from her in July of 1792. Soon after, she was removed from the Tower—where she yet shared the comfort of her daughter and sister-in-law—to the Conciergerie where she was utterly alone. But still, she would not break.

The trial to decide her fate was announced, and it was clear she would be made a sacrifice to the cause. At this point she might have given up, but she regarded the trial as a way to erase the stain on her reputation from years of scorn heaped upon it by an entire nation. Here was the chance to finally have her say, to defend her actions and leave her children the memory of a loving mother untouched by the hateful bias of the masses. She was given little time to prepare but defended herself admirably at the trial, even evoking a sympathetic response when she appealed to the women in the room after being accused of incest by her prosecuters. When she went to her death, it was with such dignity that witnesses called it haughtiness, disdain, or arrogance, but none dared say she lacked courage.

In my latest release, INSATIABLE: A MACABRE HISTORY OF FRANCE ~ L'AMOUR: MARIE ANTOINETTE, I've added one more complication to the mix; a mysterious plague causing a sinister transformation in the residents of Paris. In this work of alternate history, the Queen handles the unforeseen circumstance with the same steely aplomb that ruled her actions in documented historical accounts. The eBook editions of INSATIABLE (Kindle and Nook) are currently on sale for an introductory price of $2.99 and are available at:

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Dangerous Madness (Regency London #3) by Michelle Diener

A Dangerous MadnessShe was mistress here. She had to keep remembering that. Society conspired to make her feel in need of following rules or obeying instructions from others, but she was mistress here.

This story is a perfect blend of romance, real history, and mystery...not to mention a dashing hero that I even fell for.

I didn't realize until a quarter thru the story that the murder of the British Prime Minister Perceval shot dead by a John Bellingham in front of the House of Commons really did happen. The entire mystery in this story revolves around a real incident.

That just made the story even more appealing for me than it already was.

We have the Duke of Wittaker..and I was quite charmed by him. To the public eye, he's a drunkard and womanizer, but it's really all an act, to cover what he's up to--undercover/spy work/the gathering of information. In reality, he's charming, sweet, and I found--and this is very unusual for me--that I didn't mind most of the story following him instead of the heroine. I'm normally all about heroines, especially Ms. Diener's.

This heroine, Phoebe, isn't as "tough" as Diener's other heroines, but neither is she a weakling. She not only places herself in the middle of an assassination investigation, but holds her head up in a society that considers her ruined and treats her as such. She also isn't afraid to break rules and say what she wants...and she wants the Duke of Wittaker. Can't blame her.

She shows a different kind of bravery than Diener's other heroines, and that's okay. Courage comes in many forms. The story doesn't focus on her as much though.

Anyway, Wittaker and Phoebe run around questioning people while dodging bullets and trying to handle their growing attraction for one another. Piece by piece we get to the bottom of who is behind the murder of the PM, who was really pulling the strings. My only quibble about this story is that I very nearly had to write everyone's name down and how they were connected to the case, as I began to forget who was who and who had done what. Just a lot of people involved.

But this is another winner from Diener. I highly recommend it, as I would her other books. 

I received this via Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson

Chateau of Secrets“Courage doesn’t mean you stop being afraid. It means you continue to fight, even when you’re terrified.”

This is a story that reminds us not to take people at face value. What you see on the surface is not always the same as what’s going on beneath. I was reminded of this as I read both the contemporary and the historical story. Each story line transported me to another place or time or place and time. From modern-day Virginia to WWII France…

I love the historical heroine in this. She’s so very brave and compassionate and her story made me ask myself, “What would I do?” There are so many instances in which she can’t win, really. And she’s faced with so many choices and each time, she makes a choice to benefit not herself, but those she cares for or wishes to help, such as children.

Every day they had to make choices. In order to survive, she and Josef and other like them had to choose the least of the evils to do the most good.

From the Jew in the German Army to the French translator in bed with German officers to a journalist who once loved to party to a lying politician wannabe, we are reminded about not being quick to judge. We not only don’t know the full story, but we often make the wrong assumptions.

While I preferred the historical story—a young woman in France hiding Resistance members and children right under her chateau while serving the Germans dinner in her dining room—I also like the modern story, though I didn’t care for the heroine quite as much. My only quibble, matter of fact, is the modern heroine’s story and issues were far too predictable. I saw it all coming from very early in the book. I'd also have liked Lisette's actions explained a bit better. I seriously doubted she did what she did just to get mascara...

I also learned some new things about how the French citizens behaved during their occupation and about the gendarmes.

I didn’t realize until I looked this author up that she writes Christian fiction, but this particular novel did not have a lot religious stuff until the last quarter so. Then there is a lot of prayer and wondering what god wants her to do, and there’s a journalist who somewhat preaches a bit, but it was very little and should not offend the non-religious. I was not the least put off and as a matter of fact, I’ve purchased another title by this author. I love her writing style and if her other books are anything like this one, I’m certain I’ll enjoy them too.

I received a digital ARC of this via Edelweiss. Quotes may be different in the final copy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What compels readers to review books online? Guest Post by Carla Caruso

As an author, I tend to read book reviews with one eye open and the other shut. Just in case I spy something amid the text I don’t really want to see – then I can close the other peeper quick-smart!

On the other hand, there are also book reviews that, as a writer, make your heart sing. When you realise that that little novel you squirreled away in your office writing each weeknight, thinking nobody’d care and you could have better spent your time watching Revenge reruns? Well, somebody actually ‘got’ that story and felt compelled enough to gush about it to the world via their blog, Goodreads, et al.

Since being published, I’ve become intrigued by the world of book reviewers. What compels them to one day sit at their computer and start blogging about a tome – for free. What continues to feed their reading/reviewing addiction. Whether they communicate with other reviewers like some kind of secret club, ‘bitching’ about the bad books they’ve just read or feverishly anticipating the next offerings from favourite authors together. How they fit in their book blogging around their day-to-day lives. If the people they know in ‘real-life’ – beyond the online world – actually know about their obsession with reviewing. What they hope will become of their impulse to blog about books. When they think they’ll stop. Whether they ever feel like chucking in the towel and just reading a book for fun. How the book blogging ‘feeds’ their soul…

I’m so intrigued by all this in fact that I’m set to write a novella with a romance reviewer at its centre (due out around the festive season). And I would love to hear from book reviewers to help accurately ‘shape’ my heroine – starting with Tara from Book Babe! I’ve grilled her, as below. Would love to hear your comments also...

-When did you start your blog, Tara, and why?

Tara: It was 2010. At that point, most of my reading friends had blogs so it was always an idea in the back of my head, but I didn't take the plunge until a publisher emailed me asking me to read and review a book featuring a woman pilot. I had started the women in aviation group on Goodreads. Other than that, there was nothing making me an appealing reviewer to publishers. I accepted the offer. They sent me an email saying the book was on the way and they looked forward to seeing it on my blog...and I was like, "Uh oh." So..I started a blog. LOL 

I've kept it up because it's become a fun hobby and I love books more than anything. If publishers and authors like the blog, well, I get more books! So technically I'm not working for free. I just get paid in books.

· Why do you think most book-review bloggers go under a pseudonym or use an illustration rather than a real pic of themselves? Is there a freedom in anonymity?

Tara: I've heard some horror stories. Some people use the anonymity for safety purposes. Some authors have been known to go nuts over a book review. There was one author who threatened to commit suicide after I reviewed her book. I've received hate mail on Goodreads over my reviews. People take book reviews way too personally. Thus, the anonymity. BUT some people do indeed use the anonymity to be catty and vicious and say things that otherwise they would not say. Sometimes the anonymity, however, has nothing to do with the book world. Perhaps the reviewer has an ex-boyfriend stalking her online and so she makes a fake name or something. The possible reasons for this choice are endless.

I have no reason to use anonymity and I never say something I don't want associated with my name. I think that keeps me out of trouble.

· Have you ever written a scathing book review and been scared about the author reading it, or even been contacted by such an author?

Yes. I wouldn't use the word scathing, but yes, sometimes even a three-star review gets the emails coming, especially if they queried me via Book Babe. The promise of a review doesn't guarantee the rating they want... I tend to balk about sharing book tour reviews. The book tour companies only want three stars and up and I hate that because if I feel a book deserves a two, if I don't like it, I should be allowed to say so, tour be damned. I've posted my two-bike reviews anyway and just inwardly cringe and wait for the attack. I also tend to balk about reviewing authors who have NOTHING but 5-star reviews. Something is off there and sure enough, those tends to attack and get mad at the threes.

I had an author recently say some snarky things to me over the fact I gave her a book a three.

· Where and when do you write your book reviews, and how often do you do it? 

Tara: I write the review as soon as I close the book, while the thoughts are still fresh in my head. This could be any time of the day, afternoon, night... Sometimes I'm at work and I have to write the review on my phone during break, save it into drafts, and make it pretty on the blog later. I'd say I finish a book every two to four days and thus write the review. It varies depending on length of book, time I've had to read, and if I read the entire book or not. LOL

· How many books do you generally read in one week? And what do you ‘sacrifice’ elsewhere in your life in order to get your reading/reviewing done?

Tara: I sacrifice television, which isn't too hard because the only shows I like are on Sundays, BBC. I hate American TV.

· What is your reviewing process like? Do you jot down notes in a notepad as you read, dog-ear the corners of pages you want to refer back to, or something else? 

Tara: I prefer reading on Kindle so I can use the highlight feature. But when I have a paper book I will dog-ear the corners...shame on me! OR I use these little bookmarks my mother gave me. They are meant for Avon. When you flip through an Avon catalog and see something you want, you tear a sticky pink tab from the bookmark and place it on the edge of the page. The tabs say things like "Want", "Love"... I just use those to mark passages I want to remember or quotes I want to share.

· How long does it take you to write a book review?

Tara: Depends. If I really have a lot to say, an hour. If I don't know what to say, like if it's a good story but not particularly powerful or unique, 15 to 20 minutes.

· Do you have periods of doing lots of book reviewing and then none at all, and why so?

Tara: Yes. I don't waste a lot of time on books that suck. If I can't finish it or if it's a one-star read, I just quickly jot why I hated it on my Goodreads account, mark it dnf, and move on. Life is too short to waste it on sucky books, especially when there are so many good ones out there. So...I go through periods in which I don't write reviews when it's a bad-book week. Because I won't waste blog space on those.

· Pet hates as a book blogger? (i.e. authors emailing you, begging to have their books reviewed on your site, and the likes!)

Tara: Has to be the complaining emails, about how I gave them a three and they haven't had a three yet...blah blah blah. I also hate poorly edited books. And I hate that some people don't read the review guidelines and email wanting me to read books I'd clearly have no interest in if they took the time to look at the blog. I also hate the ones who email me wanting to be on the blog but never even offer me a book for my time. I sometimes get messages from authors wanting me to interview them, post this and that and that, and yet they have the nerve to inform me their book is on sale... I'm like, "You're demanding an hour of my time...for...what? Nothing!"

I hate blog tour companies for the same reason. I post for them, they offer no book unless I agree to do a rushed only three-star review, and in the end I get nothing for my time.

I love when I read a book, write a glowing review for it, and then get surprised with a thank-you note from the author and even better, the offer of their next title for review. Heck yes! I'm all over that!

· Why do you write book reviews?

Tara: I get paid in books! Usually.... Having been an author myself, I also know how very hard it is to get people interested in your books. I like to help out. When I was an author, I spent a ridiculous amount of money on worthless blog tours that did nothing for my sales. Why use them when you can just find a nice blogger to help you out, someone like me. LOL (Just don't ask for two hours of my time, two days, and a custom interview. Be reasonable.)

Catch of the Day
I also meet some of the coolest people this way. Just by conversing with them in emails.

Oh, and by the way – Carla here again! – here’s a blurb of my latest novel, Catch of the Day (Destiny Romance). Thanks for your time…

After a regrettable incident at the office Christmas party, up-and-coming fashion editor, Winnie Cherry, is banished to coastal South Australia to set up a beach lifestyle magazine – 300km from nowhere.

Her friends joke that she’ll marry a rich cray fisherman and stay there for good, but Winnie has other ideas. Determined to get back to Sydney within two months, she gets to work and starts counting down the days. Until she meets handsome freelance photographer Alex Bass, and sparks begin to fly.

As Winnie is increasingly drawn into the close-knit local community, she starts to question whether city life is really what she wants. That is, until Alex drops a bombshell that casts dark storm clouds over all her coastal dreams…

Buy it here: or here on Amazon.

Tara here: Carla, thanks so much for this. This was fun. I also hope my answers help you as you write your novella. I expect you to come back and promote/share the book with us when it's done.

Readers!!!!! Help an author with her research! Get something of yourself in her next story! If one of the above questions is something you'd like to answer, do so by leaving a comment below. Carla would appreciate it.