Monday, June 23, 2014

Review--Here is Where

Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten HistoryHere is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this, not just for the history, but for the entertainment value. While I knew some of the tidbits featured by Carroll, many of the stories were new to me. For a US history geek, this is a wonderful experience.

I liked it so much I returned the library copy and bought a copy for myself and my husband to enjoy at length.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Do you have permission to waltz?

"Would you care to dance as well?”
Light-footed Captain St. Armand was standing behind Daphne, smiling down at her, but before she could answer Alexander said, “Mrs. Murray was about to favor me with a dance, Captain St. Armand.”
“I was?”
“Indeed you were,” Alexander said, helping Daphne to her feet.
She cocked her head to the side, listening to the music.
“That music is in waltz time, Dr. Murray. Do you know the waltz? It is my favorite!”
“Then it will be my favorite also.”
Daphne looked up at him as he took her into his arms, a quizzical grin on her face.
“What a charming thing to say, Dr. Murray! I vow, you are becoming quite the gallant.”
Alexander said nothing to this, concentrating on the music.
Yes, he'd waltzed when ashore. On occasion he'd been invited to balls and assemblies, even a surgeon being a useful man to have when the navy was expected to provide gentlemen at entertainments. But he'd never felt the music, the dance had never mattered so much until this moment, aboard this pirate vessel.
He saw Captain St. Armand out of the corner of his eye as he swung Daphne into the dance, a cynical smile playing about the captain's lips. He was competing with Alexander, and Alex wasn't about to back down from that challenge, not when the prize was his to protect.
Castaway Dreams 

Back in the early 19th c., one had to have permission from the patronesses of Almack's to dance the waltz. It was the "twerking" of its day. OK, it wasn't, because it was danced by elegantly dressed men and women who were clothed from their hands to their feet, but you get the idea. It was racy. People danced closely. Men held women in an embrace reminiscent of *koff* other activities. It was no wonder that the older generation raised on minuets raised their lorgnettes in disapproval, while all the cool kids wanted to learn this new dance.

NPR examines the history of the waltz in a very entertaining Morning Edition segment.  Maybe we can start a movement to bring the waltz back into fashion as something all the cool kids are doing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review--Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book is like taking a master class on how to write a complex novel with multiple storylines and character POV, attention to details, adding color to scenes, and moving a narrative forward in a logical fashion.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Robert stood with his arms crossed over his chest, his boot tapping nervously at the flagstones. He heard voices within the kitchen, then she emerged, a child holding her hand.
Robert looked down at a miniature version of his mother.
Mathilde’s black curls clustered about her head, she had eyes as deep a blue as the ocean surrounding the island, and a firm little chin with a dimple that would someday be a small cleft. Her skin was golden, a legacy from Nanette, but Miss Burke was correct. There was no doubt the child was his offspring.
“Greet your father, Mathilde,” the woman murmured. The child looked up at the governess, then curtsied prettily.
“Good morning, Captain St. Armand. Miss Burke says you are my papa. Is that so? Am I coming to live with you now?” the girl said, looking up at him curiously.
Robert’s mouth opened, then closed. He squatted on his heels to bring himself down to her level. A glance at the governess showed he’d finally done something of which she approved.
“We must talk together about that, Mathilde.”
He put his fingers out, brushing his knuckles against the edge of her face. The skin was so soft he feared his hand might bruise the child, even with a thistledown touch. He could see his mother’s bones beneath the baby roundness of her cheek, the same bones that looked back from his shaving glass each morning.
“For now, is there anything you need? Are you hungry?”
“The cook gave me milk, and a roll, and I played with the new kittens. Would you like to see the kittens, Captain?”
“Perhaps later,” he said, clearing his throat around the obstruction there. “And you may call me papa, if you wish.”
“Do the other pirates call you Captain St. Armand? I want to be a pirate too!” the child said enthusiastically.
--The Pirate's Secret Baby

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who play Barbies, and pirates, and catch with their little girls and boys.  There will be days when you feel like you're not doing enough, but half the job is showing up and being there for them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Very Special Flag Day

“You underestimate the will of the American people, Doctor.”
He poked his finger in the air for emphasis. “When you push us,
we push back. Hard. John Bull cannot bully America into
surrendering now any more than you could forty years ago. Have
you already forgotten the lesson of Fort McHenry?”
He rummaged in his desk and pulled out a tattered newspaper,
much folded and creased.
“My mother sent this to me with the letters, a newspaper from
home. A Mr. Key wrote a poem about the battle, Doctor, titled
The Defence of Fort McHenry.’ Look here—‘the land of the free
and the home of the brave.’ That’s America, Charley!”
--Sea Change

June 14 is Flag Day in the US, the day we honor our nation's symbol of freedom. But this Flag Day is even more special. This year is the 200th anniversary of when a massive banner, 30 by 42 feet, flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore's harbor. It was a message to the Royal Navy that the new nation would fight, and that bold piece of cloth, seen against "the rockets' red glare" has been honored in song and verse since the War of 1812.

200 years later we're still here, standing proud. Long may it wave!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review--Shield of Winter

Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling, #13)Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner from Singh, with outstanding worldbuilding, memorable characters, dynamic story and excellent writing. Fans of the Psy-Changeling series will be thrilled, and it's a perfect example of how science fiction, fantasy and romance can be melded into a single cohesive whole.

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