Showing posts from November, 2014

Review--A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America by Allyson Hobbs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Movies like "Imitation of Life" and "Pinky" opened up a new world to White Americans, the world of African-Americans who were "passing", living as white people and hiding their African roots.

This fascinating history explores 200 years of passing in America, what it meant to the people who made these choices, their families, and to society as a whole. It's a sad and important story that's neglected in American history classes, and Hobbs' excellent book brings these tales to life for a generation that wishes to view itself, and the country, as post-racial.

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Feasting With Friends, Florida Style

Before we celebrated US style Thanksgiving in Florida (the Spaniards celebrated Thanksgiving at St. Augustine long before those latecomer Pilgrims set foot aboard ship) we had cane grinding in the autumn to share the work and feast with friends:


     As the shadows lengthened, the men began gathering around the tables like wasps drawn to sweet fruit, cozying up to their women, and trying to talk them out of some of the food before the feast officially began. Ma Ivey ruled her dirt yard like an empress and wasn't above slapping a reaching hand with a wooden spoon when they drew too close. Finally though, the last of the cane was put through the mill and the syrup cooked down, and as the night sky filled with stars the feast began to a chorus of tree frogs and crickets serenading the workers. They lined up before the platters of roast pig and venison, quails, turkey, and doves. Even a possum or two joined the potatoes in the smoldering coals.
     There was…

Review--Rogue Spy

Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much, I hardly know where to begin.

No, wait, I do know where to begin: Fluffy Aunts.

Ms. Bourne's books are not only amazingly well written, and wonderfully entertaining, but she crafts secondary characters who could step off the page. They're not spearholders (though in the case of the Fluffy Aunts I wouldn't make any assumptions), they're people who are part of the story and you can imagine them with their own lives and concerns.

Rogue Spy is Pax's story. We met him in previous books, and know he's secretly a French spy, but as is always the case with Bourne's novels of spycraft, it's much, much more complicated than Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. In fact, Camille Leyland is not only potentially one of the really Bad Guys (as well as Pax's love interest), she's deadlier and comes from a background that's prepared her well for a life of duplicity, intrigue and crime.

Each of Bo…

5 Stars for The Pirate's Secret Baby, from Pirates and Privateers reviews

From the site Pirates and Privateers: The History of Maritime Piracy:

"...Set in 1820,The Pirate’s Secret Babyis a well-researched historical romance spiced with humor. The story of Robert, Lydia, and Marauding Mattie weaves an invisible spell that tugs at your heart strings, and I particularly liked Robert’s non-violent, but oh-so-typically-piratical solution to thwarting Lydia’s nemesis. Near the end of the story, I thought once or twice it could have ended sooner than it did, but the final scene definitely ices the wedding cake. The host of refreshing, non-stereotypical, minor characters – such as two Mutt-and-Jeff-like seamen who go to school with Marauding Mattie and go her tea party, or the vicar who doesn’t mind if his daughter dons an eye patch and duels with a wooden sword – truly help bring this story to life.
I’ve read several of Marshall’s previous pirate tales, but this is the best written and most intriguing one..."
Read the full review here, and you can purchase…

Review--Softly Falling

Softly Falling by Carla    Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lovely, sweet romance about strong, good people surviving under the harshest of winter conditions. Boy howdy, did this book make me glad I live in Florida! Just reading about a killer Wyoming winter chilled me to the bone.

Carla Kelly's books aren't about dukes (most of the time) or spies or vampires, they're about ordinary people who reaffirm one's faith in the basic goodness of humanity. She writes wonderful tales about people who could live next door or down the lane or be our ancestors, and she does it with style and flair. She's also one of the top Western romance writers today, and shouldn't be overlooked.

Softly Falling isn't explicit, but is delightfully romantic and can be enjoyed by all romance readers. It's a good starting point for those who've never experienced Kelly's special brand of romance.

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Review--Ancillary Sword

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a special pleasure when the second book in a series lives up to the promise of the first. Ancillary Justice blew me away last year, and other voters agreed with me, because the novel won the 2014 World Science Fiction Society Hugo award along with a slew of other honors.

Now Leckie returns to her world of intelligent ships and subject populations in Ancillary Sword, and if anything, I liked it better than the first book. AJ rocked me with its worldbuilding and genderbending. Because I had some of that background going into AS didn't require the same kind of exposition and sometimes confusion that was inevitable with a groundbreaking first SF novel.

Breq is now a Fleet Captain, bringing her experience as a ship and an ancillary to a new role. She's still trying to make amends for some of the incidents in her past, and helping her crew navigate through treacherous societies. One of the most enjoyable parts of reading t…

Writer Woes

I was plinking away at the WIP this morning, crafting the new scene that came to me while I was out walking on Sunday. Then I realized that while the new scene does help and is necessary, I'm going to have to substantially re-write 35,000 words of what I've already done.

Writing is indeed akin to taking weird meat by-products and turning them into sausage. So, while it was a "two steps forward, one step back" morning, it could be worse. I've learned to trust my instincts on these things and I know the new scene (and the re-writing) will make [working title] Mattie's Story even better.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I have the cover of The Pirate's Secret Baby as my graphic, you probably haven't read TPSB. That's where we are first introduced to Marauding Mattie, the would-be pirate, so it's a fitting illustration for this post. It helps keep me on track while I'm working on the book, asking myself, "What Would Mattie Do?"  T…

Review--Poison Fruit

Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If this is the final book in the "Agent of Hel" series I will be quite satisfied. Relationships were resolved, character development occurred, there were epic doings, a lawyer was a total cliche, and much meta referencing happened. When Daisy thought of herself as a Mary Sue in a piece of bad fan fiction I nearly chortled with glee.

Carey has been one of my auto-buy authors for some time, and part of what I enjoy about her is the range of her writing. She's able to navigate epic fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy waters with skill and verve. This was a rewarding and enjoyable series.

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