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- Novelspot Talks to Tricia Andersen interviewed by Morgan
How important is it to be historically correct? My husband ponders this aloud as I comb through various books and Internet sources attempting to figure out how they lit fires in 1865. I naturally assumed they used matches. While I can locate the patent for sulphurette matches as early as 1827 by an English pharmacist, I also find these yard long matches never made the cross to the United States. I have a hero who I want to start a fire with a match, and I have yet to find one. Can you imagine a marshal packing yard-long matches? It would make him more comical than romantic. My search continued.
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In Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman, two ladies are off to beat the world record set by a fictional character Phileas Fogg from “Around The World The World In Eighty Days.” This history revisits Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s historical race. Nellie Bly (AKA Elizabeth Jane Cochrane) fought for the race to prove she could do it as a woman alone. Elizabeth Bisland--very much the southern dame from Louisiana--was put up to it for the cause of her publishers. From there we are shown the story of two very different women with two very different methods of approaching the travel: one by going East, the other by going West. We get a rushed view of the people they met in such hurried circumstances, the set backs and blazing good luck.
The book also shows much of the British and American views of the world in those days, not only as it pertains to the women, but also upon the world beyond the full white man’s reach. The story continues after they arrive back home and on to the rest of their lives. Matthew Goodmen tries to show how that adventure guided their life and ideas as writers and women into their old age.
I gave Eighty Days a seven only because it drags along in some places, repeating some detail overly much about the landscape already gone by, or the boredom that entails when one is stuck in some circumstance beyond one’s control. Granted, the writer had to stick with the known details as much as possible so as not to wander into fictional account, but I just wish there might have been a bit more detail to enliven the text rather than a repeat of what was already said.
Surrounded by seven adorable deaf three and four year old pre-schoolers, I got a lesson in team work that would make a Hollywood production look like cake walk. First there was a fish (a small bass, assorted potatoes, an onion, a halved apple, one dried starfish. Not one child was shy about touching the bass and a couple were ready to eat it. (Diving acts to save fish or to save child depending on your point of view). Shirts that were buttoned in the front came open exposing school clothing to paints. Big mistake. More flying hands with flings of paint in sign language than I ever saw, then twenty minutes and eight aprons later, viola, we had hand printed fishtail, food and what ever smeared and printed into BBQ aprons. That was 26 years ago. My gift of one of the aprons from the kids has frayed fabric, but the industrial paint used is still bright and will outlast the fabric it clings to. The kids are now grown and in their 30's. Ah, but what memories. I sure could have used this fabric book I just read, back in the day.
Fabric Surface Design by Cheryl Renzendes is refreshing and a must read for crafters. If you love fabric, color, texture, and anything near to any of that, you are going to eat this book. OK, maybe not literally, that would be a bit too much for anyone. You will have a literary and photographic feast. I have been doing art since I first drew on the walls of my parents' living room as a two year old, and have delved in just about every medium I can commonly get my hands on. I pretty much thought I had done it all when it came to fabric, but this book brought new and simple ideas to me that I simply had overlooked.
Like what? New ways to use food for Fabric Surface Design as well as different types of coloring that can be used as dye. We have all heard the fish, apple, and potato cut stamping. How what about spaghetti noodles? That was new to me. I never really thought there could be enough starch for resist.
You can’t get lost following directions in this book. I suggest you buy two. One for just looking at and dreaming, the other to use as your actual manual. That way if splatters, finger prints, etc. get into it, you know you have the back up to keep pristine.
Mar 30, 2013
In genre fiction, especially romance, there has long been a blackout of the forties and fifties. Maybe there were a few publishers who tentatively dipped their toes in the waters of those decades, but for the most part, the millions of possible stories of that era remained untold. It's hard to say why, really, but the gatekeeper-publishers just weren't buying/publishing many manuscripts set in that era. Things may be turning around now, with all changes in the book market, or maybe the blacklisted decades have just advanced to the sixties or eighties. Of course, this isn't really what one would call a card-carrying historical romance, so perhaps I am misapplying a rule of genre romance over another genre. It's a new cross-genre world, as far as book publishing is concerned. Initially, I was doubly interested in The Fat Chef by Fredrik Nath, because it combines a couple of my favorite subjects: cooking, history and mystery.
The Fat Chef himself is Raoul, Head Chef of Le Metro in 1940 Paris. As the story begins, Raoul is with some of his staff from the hotel Le Metro, watching the Germans triumphant march as they come in to occupy his beloved Paris. The book is a slow starter because we have to see who the protagonist is in the context of his life "before" war. After we meet Raoul, it takes some time to see the patriotic heart he hides beneath a huge, seemingly benign bulk, but eventually actions eventually speak louder than words--even if no one sees them.
Raoul is a man of his time, and accepts himself and his weight, which in one sense functions as a camouflage to a spine no one (except maybe Natalie) realizes he has. His vocation and avocation is food, his kitchen, and the hotel; and in his position--within the boundaries of his kitchen realm--as head chef, he runs his world with flair, and taste. At first his best intent is not to let the German occupation touch him. But Paris is occupied. The Germans can not be ignored, especially when they take over the hotel.
In many ways, this tale is a French version of the domestic point of view expressed in Remains of the Day, the action of which is set during the forties, and in which, the English butler Mr Stevens responds to the invasion of politics into his English domain by maintaining the appearance of business as usual, even at great personal cost. In The Fat Chef, at first it seems that Raoul is going to cope in the same way, "Business as usual. We will rise above all this politics." But the essential Frenchness of Raoul, his passion and hunger for and appreciation of life, and especially his secret passion for his Jewish sous chef Natalie lead us into a story that follows a very different path. Maybe Raoul's unrequited love during the Nazi occupation is not quite so unrequited.
While this novel is part of Fredrik Nath's World War 2 Adventure series, it should be noted that it stands on its own. In fact, since this is the first of Mr. Nath's books that I have read, I can't say if there is any interaction between the novels in the series. I can say that I found the book intriguing. The slow pace is more akin to a romance than a thriller, and though it hit's the ground at an amble, The Fat Chef, bubbles, toils and troubles through a number of very unexpected plot twists. Raoul has a metamorphosis and sacrifices are made. The author's bio says Fredrik Nath loves a good story, and I believe it, because this is a good story. I think it is the best story I've ever read that was written by a full time neuro-surgeon, so I'm glad that when Nath is not carving up patients in surgery, he turns his intriguing brain to writing fiction. An enjoyable read, refreshing voice, believable character.
The Difference a Day Makes by Barbara Longley is the second book in the Perfect, Indiana series published by Montlake Romance. Book two follows Longley’s heartwarming tale Far From Perfect, which was universally well received. Perfect, Indiana is where you go when everything falls apart to regroup; at least that is what Paige and Ryan do.
Ryan is a traumatized veteran battling with survivor guilt after a suicide bombing attack. Life as he knows is gone and there seems nothing to live for until his former commander Noah Langford calls and ask for help with his furniture store. Not exactly, what he planned for his life, but better than a fifth and a bullet to the head. He decides to take the hand up, even if it lands him into a cozy town called Perfect, Indiana.
Where do you go with everything goes south? Paige figures home is the best place to lick her wounds. Only a month ago everything was grand, or so she thought. That was before her boyfriend dumped her and managed to destroy her credibility at work It would be enough for most guys to break up, but oh no, he had to make sure she was jobless too. All she really wants is to disappear from the face of the earth. Perfect, Indiana suits the bill.
Paige and Ryan both embittered individuals with similar jaded outlooks have to work side by side in Noah Langford’s furniture store. While sparks fly between the two, they keep their distance realizing they both are walking wounded. A cautious friendship unfolds between the two as they share their pain and rebuild their confidence.
The Difference a Day Makes illustrates how much one day can change everything. This heartwarming tale shows that people can rebuild even when they have reached rock bottom. Most romance fans will enjoy this book. As a Hoosier, I applaud Ms. Longley’s use of Perfect, Indiana as a setting.
ImaJinn Books Inc
January 23, 2013
Angel of Syn, by Mertianna Georgia is the second is the Synemancer series starring witch Cara Augustine. Ever get in trouble for a mistake you didn’t know you made? Well if you did, it might be easy to sympathize with Cara. It appears she broke a law by making a werewolf her familiar. She didn’t know she broke a law. Unfortunately, the penalty is death. Just call her witch on the run.
What is worse than running from the Portalkind law? It might be deciding between three sexy supernatural males who are determined to make Cara and her emerging powers part of a power couple. Cara has a lovelorn Nephilim who is half angel and half witch. There is a crazy French werewolf, who wants her. His intentions may not be entirely romantic. Add to the trio, a sexy, semi-scary Nightkind who actually wants to marry her. The group follows Cara as she seeks sanctuary in the Garden of Eden, which has its own share of dangers.
This is a three part series as far as book goes. It is highly recommend reading the first book, Syn in the City before reading this one. It explains things like Nephilim, Nightkind and more of what Cara is up too. It is a little bit like walking into a conversation about people you don’t know and the conversation continues without any explanation. Most things can be figured out through context.
Ms. Georgia’s writing is fun and often steamy. It flows well making the story a joy even if everything isn’t clear. If you are looking for a paranormal with attitude and bite, then this is the book for you. Just make sure you read Syn in the City first.
Black Opal Books
With Murderous Intent by Maggi Andersen is a romantic suspense published by Black Opal books. Caitlin Fitzgerald is the victim of a romance gone bad, very bad. The only way she can avoid her crazed ex-boyfriend is to flee Ireland. With this in mind, she accepts a nanny position in Australia, far, far away from her intimidating ex.
Caitlin would like a chance to start over and do something that matters. Her plans did not include landing a new man. That is the farthest thing from her mind, but it still doesn’t stop her from noticing her handsome boss. The man isn’t for her since she is well on his way to marrying a wealthy socialite. Instead, she focusses on her two charges.
Jake has his life in order, or at least he thinks so. The nanny he advertised for may turn the tide in the children’s favor as far as his fiancée goes. It is no secret that his wealthy, gorgeous girlfriend isn’t anxious to become a stepmother. It would work out better if his fiancée could be more like Caitlin.
Caitlin realizes her job might end if Jake’s fiancée gets her way. Worse yet, she has suspicions that her distant, dangerous ex might have followed all the way out to the bush. The last thing she wants to do is to endanger Jake or the children.
With Murderous Intent explores the world of Australia with facts about the climate, landscape, fauna and wildlife. This is a sweet romance with the flavor of the outback.
Angel’s Assassin by Laurel O’Donnell is suspenseful historic romance. Lady Aurora lives in the time of romantic castles, ambitious missions and far-reaching cruelty. Her task is to undo the evil her mother has spread throughout the land under her rule, but Aurora is up to the task. A stranger enters the picture winning her trust, while keeping his true purpose behind his visit secret.
Damien is a slave and a trained assassin. He is good at what he does, so good, in fact, that his master agrees to release him if he kills one last person. As a cold, calculating killer Damien never asks why a person must die, he just carries out his duty that is until he meets Aurora. The woman shines like a light into his dark life, illuminating corners he’d forgotten, making him yearn for both home and love. The only problem is to gain his freedom he must kill the only woman who ever truly cared about him.
Lady Aurora is aware her mother’s evil continues to reap consequences no matter how hard Aurora works to correct the wrong done. Her mother’s killer might possibly come back for her. Dark brooding Damien enters her world upsetting her already tenuous balance by creating forbidden desires for someone not of her station. She finds herself drawn to the unsuitable man. He is a stranger who keeps so much from her. Even though she knows all the reasons to stay away from Damien, she fails to heed them.
Angel’s Assassin moves at a nice pace with excellent descriptions and supporting characters. There is a period flavor with no textbook-feel history lessons. Damien and Aurora’s romance progresses in stages as most romances realistically do. Usually finding out your lover is also your assassin is a bit off putting. As a reader, I wanted the two to work out their differences with no bloodshed.
Angel’s Assassin is a wonderful page-turner romance. Make sure you have enough time to finish it because you will not be putting it down. Two thumbs up for Ms. O’Donnell and Angel’s Assassin.
P. C. Cast
Goddess of Love by P.C. Cast is another in the Goddess Summoning novels. This tale deals with the Goddess of Love who is inadvertently summoned by lovelorn Pea who can’t even gain the attentions of her neighbor.
Pea Chamberlain has scaled her career ladder in record time. She’s also a wonderful ballet dancer and gourmet chef. The one thing she doesn’t excel in is attracting men. It looks like a husband and children are a pipe dream unless she does something drastic. It will take the help of gods, or maybe a certain goddess to turn her oblivious neighbor Griffin’s attention to her.
Venus, Goddess of Love, is bored with her life and her marriage. She agrees to accompany fellow goddess, Persephone to Tulsa to see how the locals live in the 21st century. They shop, do lunch, and witness Pea’s humiliation in front of a dozen handsome firefighters, including Griffin.
Using an incantation that Hera provided, Pea summons Venus’ help, but at first she doesn’t believe the goddess is who she said she is. Still Venus does promise her that she will give Pea the skill set to get her man. Unfortunately, Venus falls for Griffin, and who can resist the Goddess of Love?
I really liked the Goddess of Light, but this isn’t even close. This is the head cheerleader stealing the guy you had a crush on for forever. Pea easily forgives her. After all, she takes up with Venus’ husband. There is a rushed feeling about this story. I would say it doesn’t work. I skipped several pages to get past the Venus love story. I didn’t care about Venus having a love story. It honked me off that she would steal Pea’s crush after agreeing to help her. Hadn’t she had like a zillion affairs, but she had to have one more. Then there Pea’s dialogue for a smart woman you’d think she could say something other than “more” or “closer” throughout the sensual scenes. It was one step removed from “Oh my God.”
Goddess of Love was a severe disappointment, considering P.C. Cast’s previous work. I would not recommend this book. Do you think you could possibly feel for the head cheerleader who has worked her way through every spectacular man on the planet, but now she has to have the one you like? That’s what I thought. Move on to a more likable P.C. Cast book such as House of Night.
Dina Rae’s Halo of the Damned, a different type of paranormal, is published by Eternal Press. Instead of the retelling of Gods and Goddesses, Ms. Rae decides to go with one of Satan’s own. As many of you have suspected after bombarded by images of perfect slender females in commercials, there is pure evil in advertising. This happens to be a devil named Andel’s tale.
Andel shows up in Wheaton, Illinois to do Satan’s bidding, or at least that’s the plan. Andel head up an advertising firm named Evil Empire. He’s so successful because he really knows how to use subliminal advertising to feed into people’s fear and inherent greed. Think Mad Men only more modern. The story opens with a recent murder, and not much rationale behind it. Perhaps, murder is what dark angels do. Like all advertising executives, Andel becomes full of himself and does not feel the need to follow his original orders.
Enter our female characters, who more than what they seem, and more than what they know. Joanna Easterhouse, talk about a telling name, her sister Kim, and her daughter Maria are a bit different. Unaware that they aren’t fully human, their psychic gifts come as a surprise, not necessarily a pleasant one either.
As you would expect Joanna takes a job at the Evil Empire and becomes involved in Andel’s machinations. A battle for domination ensues. It takes place on the world stage and culminates in Wheaton. This fast paced, and sometimes gory, story takes advantage of the Yezidism, angel-worshipping religion to support its premise.
Halo of the Damned does have dark romantic elements rather like Wuthering Heights. Horror, paranormal, dark romance fans should all enjoy this book. From his creative cover by Dawne Dominique to its unusual storyline and stunning ending, it is a tale that is sure to stay with you.