July

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I’ve written this to her a number of times but thought it was time to do it publicly: Amber does a great job creating a header for each month’s newzine. All Hail Amber! ~ JB

      Odds~n~Ends

When I moved out to the PNW for grad school, one of my teachers was a great artist named Frank Okada. I got to know him very well. He kindly allowed me to borrow records from his vast jazz collection to tape. He also loaned me a copy of his late brother’s book, No-No Boy, a novel about a Japanese boy who joins the army in WWII. It’s a great book.

It’s now become the center of controversy as it was believed to be under copyright but it is now to be released by Penguin/Randomhouse. Here’s a story from the Seattle Times about the situation. I would recommend the novel to anyone but I would urge that they buy the University of Washington Press edition as it includes material from his siblings and the estate gets the royalties. As of now, PenguinHouse gives the family nothing.  ~ JB

Hard to know what this portends: Barnes & Noble Set To Be Sold To Elliott Management For About $683 Million 

Sellers in Amazon’s bookstore feel beaten up by counterfeit Wild West

“Since 1944, the mystery of how Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, went missing remained unsolved for decades. That was until the chance discovery of a bracelet by a fisherman began to unravel what had happened”. BBC.com

Here’s one for Adele: What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane?

Pistol that Van Gogh ‘used to shoot himself’ sells for £115,000 at Paris auction 

‘I Really Thought He Was Going to Kill Me and Bury My Body’ Sherrilyn Kenyon accused her husband of poisoning her. Was it her wildest fiction yet?

       Podcasts!

There isn’t really much crime or mystery – as defined classically – in this podcast but it sure is an interesting take on modern America: Michael Lewis is probably most widely known for his book Moneyball (its a great book and was a good movie, too). His podcast is called Against the Rules and deals with the erosion, if not elimination, of referees in our lives. And by referees, he means those neutral people who used to be in the middle of disagreements and who would dispassionately follow the rules to settle the dispute. It is not just about umpires!

      Words for the Month

idioticon (n): “a dictionary of a dialect,” 1842, via German, from Latinized form of idiotikon, neuter of Greek idiotikos, from idioma (see idiom). [thanks to etymonline]

Not at all what you expected, right?

      Author Events

July 1: Deborah Harkness, Third Place/LFK, 7pm

July 8: Brad Holden, Elliot Bay, 7pm

July 9: Julie Weston, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

July 24: Daniel Nieh, Powell’s, 7:30pm

July 30: Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay, 7pm

      Words for the Month

gore (n.): A “triangular piece of ground,” Old English gara “corner, point of land, cape, promontory,” from Proto-Germanic *gaizon- (source also of Old Frisian gare “a gore of cloth; a garment,” Dutch geer, German gehre “a wedge, a gore”), from Proto-Indo-European *ghaiso- “a stick, spear” (see gar). The connecting sense is “triangularity.” Hence also the senses “front of a skirt” (mid-13th C.), and “triangular piece of cloth” (early 14th C.). In New England, the word applied to a strip of land left out of any property by an error when tracts are surveyed (1640s). Only later comes –

gore (n.): “thick, clotted blood,” Old English gor “dirt, dung, filth, shit,” a Germanic word (cognates: Middle Dutch goor “filth, mud;” Old Norse gor “cud;” Old High German gor “animal dung”), of uncertain origin. Sense of “clotted blood” (especially shed in battle) developed by 1560s (gore-blood is from 1550s). [thanks to etymonline]

      Links

May 23: Reading a ridiculously long book might seem like a chore, but it offers an unexpected reward

May 30: VICE LITTLE EARNER- Bawdy guide to London’s secret brothels in 1840s sells for £4k at auction

May 30: James Bond still a strong ‘recruitment sergeant’ for MI6, says expert

May 30: The Curious Origins of the Dollar Symbol

June 1: There are floating library boats in Sweden

June 1: House used as Tony Soprano’s is on the Market

June 1: So you want to be a novelist? A New York literary agent, editor and author reveal how bestsellers are born

June 2: James Ellroy says film adaptation of LA Confidential was ‘as deep as a tortilla’

June 2: Jodie Comer: “Mum and Dad took my BAFTA on a pub crawl”

June 3: ‘When They See Us’ Sparked a Boycott Against Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein

June 3: Long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family’s drawer

June 4: Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole by California Governor

June 4: Tin House magazine ends a 20-year run that helped make Portland’s literary reputation

June 5: Tourist’s lucky guess cracks safe code on first try

June 5: James Bond set ‘explosion’ at Pinewood Studios injures one

June 7: Linda Fairstein, Former ‘Central Park 5’ Prosecutor, Dropped By Her Publisher

June 7: “Langdon”, based on the Dan Brown books, is headed to NBC TV

June 7: George Orwell’s 1984: Why it still matters

June 7: The Intimacy of Crime Scene Photos in Belle Epoque Paris

June 9: A telephone for grief after the Japanese tsunami

June 10: New knees and tourist selfies: OJ Simpson on life post-prison in Las Vegas

June 10: The story of Australia’s oldest LGBTI bookstore

June 10: The First Murder Case to Use Family Tree Forensics Goes to Trial

June 11: Restaurant Temporarily Closed After Decomposing Body Leaked Through Its Ceiling

June 11: People Who Pay People to Kill People

June 12: Kim Goldman’s crusade: Make O.J. Simpson pay and never forget

June 12: A Very Happy 50th Birthday To ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

June 12: Nirvana and Eminem music ‘lost in fire’

June 12: This Archive Captures Centuries of British Crime, From Cheese Theft to Murder

June 13: ‘Making a Murderer’ Brings Call to Abolish Actual Malice in Libel Suits

June 13: Trove of English Court Records Reveal Stories of Murder, Witchcraft, Cheese Theft

June 13: Lost Miles Davis album, Rubberband, to be released in September

June 13: Narnia creator CS Lewis’s letters to children go on sale

June 13: When Pepsi was swapped for Soviet warships

June 13: D.B. Cooper boat tour will offer insight into famous case during trip to sandbar where skyjacker’s money found

June 14: Leonard Cohen love letters fetch $876,000 at auction

June 14: Disappeared Argentina activists’ son finds family after 40 years

June 15: Kate Atkinson: ‘I live to entertain. I don’t live to teach or to be political’

June 15: Why would a nurse become a serial killer?

June 16: Babe Ruth jersey fetches record-breaking $5.64m at auction

June 17: North Carolina suspect fought off by boy with machete due in court

June 18: Mobster’s son behind dad’s murder at McDonald’s drive-thru: feds

June 18: A Prison Death, A Mysterious Autopsy, and Official Silence

June 18: NPR Identifies 4th Attacker In Civil Rights-Era Cold Case

June 20: Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant

June 21: A Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of Pakistan’s Gun Markets

June 21: DC Comics shutters its legendary Vertigo imprint in reorganization

June 22: ‘Building over history’: the prison graveyard buried under a Texas suburb

June 22: Rogue slug blamed for Japanese railway chaos

June 23: Timeless Literary Feuds

June23: By the Book: Greg Iles

June 24: The Chilling Story of Three Women Haunted by the Same Rapist—And How the Law Failed Them 

June 24: How Amazon benefits from counterfeit books

June 25: Death in Ice Valley – New clues in Isdal Woman mystery

June 25: Stan Lee’s ‘first novel for adults’ to be published this autumn

June 25: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul spark “Breaking Bad” reunion buzz with cryptic “Soon” messages

June 26: Target Pulls New Thread in Bikini Yarn

June 26: MOST STOLEN BOOKS 2018–2019 SCHOOL YEAR

June 27: ‘The Books Will Stop Working’: How The Microsoft Store Is Retiring Its Books Category

June 27: ‘Harry Potter’ Book With Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘First’ Autograph Sold For Over $3,000

June 28: MacKenzie Lueck murder suspect apparently wrote book involving burning bodies

June 28: No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books

June 29: Romance novelists speak out on the harassment they face online

June 29: Book details British cop’s impressions of Detroit crime

June 29: Five Examples of Steve Englehart’s Love of Obscure Comic Book History

      R.I.P.

June 1: Frank Lucas, Dies at 88; Drug Kingpin Depicted in American Gangster

June 8: Anthony Price, espionage fiction master and respected reviewer, dead at 90

June 8: Nicky Barnes, ‘Mr. Untouchable’ of Heroin Dealers, Is Dead at 78

June 12: Sylvia Miles, Scene-Stealer in ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘Farewell, My Lovely,’

June 13: Bill Wittliff, ‘Lonesome Dove’ Screenwriter, Dies at 79

June 15: Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

June 23: Judith Krantz, Whose Tales of Sex and Shopping Sold Millions, Dies at 91

June 24: Billy Drago, who machine-gunned Sean Connery in “The Untouchables, Dies at 73

June 27: Max Wright: Star of Alf and Buffalo Bill dies aged 75

      Words of the Month

vulgate (n.): Latin translation of the Bible, especially that completed in 405 by St. Jerome (c.340-420), c. 1600, from Medieval Latin Vulgata, from Late Latin vulgata “common, general, ordinary, popular” (in vulgata editio “popular edition”), from Latin vulgata, feminine past participle of vulgare “make common or public, spread among the multitude,” from vulgus “the common people” (see vulgar). So called because the translations made the book accessible to the common people of ancient Rome.

vulgar (adj.): From the late 14th C., “common, ordinary,” from Latin vulgaris, volgaris “of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar, low, mean,” from vulgus “the common people, multitude, crowd, throng,” perhaps from a Proto-Indo-European root *wel- “to crowd, throng” (source also of Sanskrit vargah “division, group,” Greek eilein “to press, throng,” Middle Breton gwal’ch “abundance,” Welsh gwala “sufficiency, enough”) [not in Watkins]. Meaning “coarse, low, ill-bred” is first recorded 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) with meaning “belonging to the ordinary class” (1530). Related: Vulgarly.

What we have added to human depravity is again a thoroughly Roman quality, perhaps even a Roman invention: vulgarity. That word means the mind of the herd, and specifically the herd in the city, the gutter, and the tavern. [Guy Davenport, “Wheel Ruts”]

vulgarian (n.): A “rich person of vulgar manners,” 1804, from vulgar (adj.) + -ian.

      What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Finder Of Lost Things: 

Last Friday – Phoebe mails off her anonymous tip to Ranger Lade about The Woman In White, Beatrice gets an epic stomach ache, and Ms. Hettie voices her displeasure.

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The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth – Leonard Goldberg

So here’s the thing – my local book store only had the new volume of the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series on the shelves…

However, the title & summary of the new book intrigued me. Holmes’s daughter, 221b Baker Street, two Watsons, German spies, and a missing cryptographer – how could I resist such a combination?

So, not so shockingly, I went ahead and bought the book – and even less shockingly since I’m writing this review – I was rewarded for my out of order reading.

The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth is an intriguing, intelligent, and well-plotted mystery. While Joanna (Sherlock’s daughter), Dr. Watson and Dr. Watson Jr. depend on the Sherlockian method, they are not bogged down or bound by the minutia of the original stories. Goldberg cleverly works in select slices of the Doyle mysteries but reworks them, so they feel natural and unwilted.

Even better? Goldberg doesn’t spoil the mysteries which came before The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth, so you can start with the third book without knowing the solutions to the previous installments! Now, this doesn’t mean you aren’t left wondering what exactly happened to Sherlock, what happened to Joanna’s first husband or how she came to marry Dr. Watson Jr. – it means you need to go back and read the other two books to find the answers!

Even if you aren’t knowledgeable of Sherlock Holmes’s exploits, this book won’t leave you scratching your head. It is very grounded in 1914 London, the First World War, and the mystery at hand. I think anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, which just happened to feature well-known detectives, will find this book an enjoyable read!

I know I did!

   Fran

In my experience, there are three types of people who are late to the party. Spoiler alert, I know this from experience.

You’ve got the genuinely late, genuinely remorseful types. (rushes in wailing, “I’m so sorry! Traffic (or whatever)….)”

Then there are the fabulously late. (swanning in, “I’m here, let’s get this party started!”)

And the guiltily late. (sneaks in, hides in a corner, pretending to have been there all along, says nothing).

In this particular scenario, I’m the last one. I mean, I’m owning it and all, and I’m genuinely sorry about not having attended this party sooner, but…yeah. I should have been here earlier and I’m absolutely and most sincerely remorseful that I haven’t been. Because boy, have I been missing out.

I finally read Louise Penny.9781250068736

I know! I know! And yes, you’re right, and yes, I should have begun the journey with Inspector Gamache back when Adele told me to, but since the Pennys seemed to sell themselves, and no one can match Adele’s brightness and delight when talking about them, I figured I’d get around to them one of these days. That day arrived, and I’ve blasted through Still Life and A Fatal Grace almost without taking a breath.

Except I had to stop and let you all know that while I may be late to this particular party, I’m about to jump out of the corner and start dancing with everyone else.

At least until I get my hands on The Cruelest Month  (which I just did). Then I’m going back to ignoring all y’all. I’ll be needed in Three Pines. And yes, I want to live there too, even if it does give intimations of being the Quebecois version of Cabot Cove or Midsomer. I don’t care. I love these people!

Let’s Party!

   JB

It is my pattern, my want, my curse, that whenever I get interested in something, I have MV5BNTEyYmIzMDUtNWMwNC00Y2Q1LWIyZTgtMGY1YzUxOTAwYTAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyMTc0ODQ@to search out info about it until I feel “full”. As soon as HBO began to air promos for “Chernobyl”, I was sold on watching it and looked forward to it. That desire was rewarded, I felt, by it being terrific TV – compulsively watchable, vivid, dynamic, truthful in is presentation, and honest. After the first episode I began to look for information about the show and the accident itself.

While I remember the accident happening at the end of April of 1986 (the month we got the keys to our house) there was much I didn’t recall clearly. Just the scale of the accident. The series was very good in presenting the accident, what lead up to it, how it unfolded. I understood going in that there were liberties taken by the creators with some of the characters – it’s HOLLYWOOD for heaven’s sake! – in order to present the story. Some shortcuts, some composite characters, some details of the massive story have to be curtailed in order to tell the larger story and have it make sense in five hour increments.

In my readings about show, I found out that there was podcast going on to accompany the series. It was a joint effort of Peter Sagal (from NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”) and the writer and producer of the series, Craig Mazin. Each episode of the show is discussed and dissected and Mazin is clear to explain what was done to make the show work. If you’ve watched the show but not listened to the podcast, I urge you to. If you’ve not watched the show, you must.

I got it through Apple’s podcast system. Should be easy to find on any system. Never once does Mazin claim his show is a complete recitation of the accident. He’s very clear that his interest was in not only portraying the accident and what it did to people but to also show the grim dangers of secrecy and lies.

Because the drive of the show is how hiding the truth is dangerous. While the men running the reactor that night made mistakes, the Soviet system set it up to happen eventually. If you’re too young to remember the USSR and the Cold War, the events and circumstances of the Chernobyl catastrophe will be an mind-blower. And in our time, when truth and science are dismissed and spat upon, the is a real-life cautionary tale whose end will not be written for thousands of years.

9781501134616And somewhere in my reading, I ran across a book that had just been published – Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. It was being touted as the definitive account of the entire, horrific affair – and it was. It’s dramatic and heroic in scope, you get the details and numbers in a smooth, flowing narration, and portrait he provides is staggering in its breadth and honesty. It’s got maps, and diagrams, and photos. About the only thing it lacks is the distinct smell of radiation – like ozone we’re told.

He puts you into the danger, telling you that radiation pops off your eyeballs with the sensation of a spray of water. You read how much went into building the first sarcophagus over the ruined reactor and how the second structure is big enough to hold three of the St. Peter’s Basilica.

It’s a staggering story. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now the question is, have I learned enough to satisfy the craving?

For now, perhaps – now it is back to the Mueller report!

 


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February’s Newzine!

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      Podcasts

LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller – Literally LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow & Star Trek fame) reading short stories (all kinds) to you!

Netflix has released a new series that IS interesting and certainly IS grisly: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  It is also full of period film of Seattle in the 70s.

      Word of the Month

supergrass (n): supergrass is a British slang term for an informant who turns Queen’s evidence, often in return for protection and immunity from prosecution. In the British criminal world, police informants have been called “grasses” since the late 1930s, and the “super” prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those who witnessed against fellow criminals in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time…

The first known use of “grass” in that context is Arthur Gardner’s crime novel Tinker’s Kitchen, published in 1932, in which a “grass” is defined as “an informer”. The origin of the term “grass” being used as signifying a traitor, a person who informs on people he or she knows intimately, ostensibly can be traced to the expression “snake in the grass”, which has a similar meaning. The phrase derives from the writings of Virgil (in Latin, latet anguis in herba) and has been known in the English language, meaning “traitor”, since the late 17th century.

An alternative claim is made for the term originating from rhyming slang, whereby “grasshopper” is defined as “copper”, meaning “policeman”. The rhyming slang version was supported in 1950 by lexicographer Paul Tempest. (wikipedia)

      Book Events

February 4: April Henry, 7pm Powell’s

February 9: Mike Lawson, 1pm Barnes & Noble, Silverdale

February 14: Mary Daheim AND Candace Robb, 7pm Third Place/LFP

February 16: Mike Lawson, 3pm, Magnolia Bookstore

February 24: Jasper Fforde, 6pm Third Place/LFP

      Links of Interest

January 1: Books are good for your brain. These techniques will help you read more.

January 2: Australian police respond to spider death threats

January 3: Can An Auto-Immune Disease Explain The Salem Witch Trials?

January 4: Manson family murderer Robert Beausoleil recommended for parole

January 5: ‘Kidnapper’ chased out of North Carolina karate studio

January 6 (from the UK): Independent bookshops grow for second year after 20-year decline

January 7: ‘The Sopranos’ at 20: How did the show change TV — and us?

January 7: David Chase on ‘The Sopranos,’ Trump and, Yes, That Ending

January 8: A woman’s murder in Peking and a literary feud

January 8: How true-crime podcasts find clues the police miss

January 9: ‘The Millions’ Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead

January 10: Woman fined after bragging about illegal hunt on dating app

January 11: Some Dos and Don’ts from Famous Authors

January 11: ‘Hugely heavy’ hippo sculpture stolen

January 11: Can Romance Novels Save Heterosexual Sex?

January 11: British sarcasm ‘lost on Americans’

January 12: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

January 13: True Detective’: Three Real-Life Cases Behind the Show’s Central Mystery

January 13: After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer

January 14: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

January 15: The Homeless Man Who Set Up A Book Club

January 15: ‘Most famous’ banned book to be sold

January 16: TV series based on Portland writer Chelsea Cain’s novel premieres on WGN America

January 16: The Villainous Bitch Has Become the Most Boring Trend in Literature

January 17: The Library Of Forbidden Books

January 17: New York’s Secret Travel Club

January 17: Nancy Drew is Still Influencing – Well the covers are at any rate

January 17: Sherrilyn Kenyon~Bestselling author accuses husband of poisoning her in ‘Shakespearean plot’

January 18: Earliest Fragments of the English Language Revealed

January 21: How ‘Sherlock’ went from super-sleuth to the Baker Street Men Behaving Badly

January 22: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film Finds Young Tony: Michael Gandolfini Is Chip Off Old Block

January 23: An infamous mobster’s home was up for sale in Vegas. Buyers made an offer. Who could refuse?

January 23: ‘Buffy’ returns with a modern comic book reboot

January 23: Guillermo del Toro leads drive to save horror bookshop Dark Delicacies

January 23: San Francisco’s Aardvark Bookstore Closes after 40 Years

January 23: ~ If I Hate Violence So Much, Why Do I Love Writing About It?

January 23: Don Winslow ~ I Write Fiction About Border Crime, But Unlike Trump I Tell the Truth.

January 23: A week in the life of a London murder detective

January 24: Medieval book coffer shows appetite for mobile reading ‘is nothing new’

January 24: Times reporter pens book about mystery of missing Skelton brothers

January 24: 7-year-old’s book accepted into Library of Congress

January 24: Amanda Knox ~ European court orders Italy to pay damages

January 25: Penguin Random House Closes the Prestigious Imprint Spiegel & Grau

January 27: Booker Prize Looses Sponsor

January 27: The Knotty Nostalgia of the Hardy Boys Series

January 28: The tiny library bringing books to remote villages

January 28: Book explores old murder mysteries in Lorain County

      Word of the Month – Continued

croodle (v): To cower or cuddle together, as from fear or cold; to lie close and snug together, as pigs in straw. (thanks to wordfinder)

      R.I.P.

December 29: June Whitfield – The wonderful voice of Miss Marple on BBC Radio

We say farewell to Ed Kennedy, a customer who went back to the early daysimage-69068_20190102 of the shop. He’d bop in with a big smile and a friendly “Hey, Man!” He bought books for himself, mysteries and special orders for himself and relatives. Ed had a deep, smooth voice and would often be on his way to or from a session of taping a book for the Washington Talking Book. This seemed to be one of his great pleasures, reading a book aloud for those who couldn’t read themselves. With that voice he must’ve been one of their stars.

Thanks, Ed. Vios con dios!

January 4: Edgar Winner Brian Garfield, dead at 79

January 20: Tony Mendez, Mastermind of the Rescue of the US Hostages in Iran

January 31: Dick Miller, Gremlins and Terminator actor, dies aged 90

      Word of the Month – Lastly

Rivulose – adjective – marked with irregular, narrow, sinuous, crooked lines or furrows resembling rivers marked on a map.

While they may use this word primarily to describe the irregular, surfaces of bugs, fishes, and mushrooms (for purposes entomological, ichthyological, and mycological), you can apply it as you wish. It can, for example, do the job of describing the wrinkles on your typical lexicographer’s shirt. The word is Latin in origin, tracing back to rivulus, meaning “rivulet,” and the English suffix –ose, meaning “possessing the qualities of.” Something that is rivulose is marked with lines reminiscent of those made by a rivulet—that is, a small stream—as viewed from far above.

(thank-you to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!

 Finder Of Lost Things

After an eventful night which included a mysterious FLYT fare, the discovery of Little Ben’s ill conceived pet cemetery plans and getting chewed out by Joseph at Nevermore. Phoebe’s on her way home for a quiet snack and then bed…

But her night’s not quite over yet!

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No Wind Of Blame by Georgette Heyer

So this mystery is a bit of a conundrum.

Because, for one reason or another, until the murder of Wally Carter I disliked every character Heyer introduced into the narrative. Since the deed wasn’t done until page one-hundred-and-thirty-one…well let’s just say it took me a while to work my through the cast’s hysterics, dramatics, whining, and martyrdom to the meat of the matter.

But two things kept me from shelving the book permanently, neither Heyer nor her foil, Inspector Hemingway has ever let me down.

And as you’ve guessed, (since I’m writing a review) my patience was rewarded, because the last half of the book was excellent.

Even better?

Through Hemingway’s investigation, observations, and dry wit, you come to understand exactly who these people are and their motivations, which shed an entirely new light on the first half of the book, making it infinitely more interesting – and well worth a reread.

Perhaps not the best of Heyer’s mysteries (it is definitely not the worst), the solution straining the boundary of credulity, it is still a satisfying read.

You just need to stick with it!

BTW – Source Books has reissued all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries! So if you couldn’t find them previously, they are easy to find now! And I highly recommend a read thru of her mysteries, if you enjoy classic 1930s-1950s British mysteries!

My favorites: Death In The Stocks & Why Shoot A Butler?

    Fran

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Okay, let me just say up front that I adore Amber and trust her implicitly. Therefore you have to understand the sorrow with which I tell you, Amber lied.

Amber lied BIG TIME.

Okay, first of all, go back and read her review of Brandon Sanderson‘s book, LEGION. It’s okay, we’ve got time. I’ll wait. It’s back in December, so you won’t have to scroll far.

Done? Groovy.

I’m not going to recap the synopsis; you just read it. But what you’re not getting is how BADLY SHE UNDERSELLS THIS BOOK!

Holy cats.

Granted, if you’re looking for Sanderson’s telltale fantasy story, you’ll be disappointed, but only briefly because the writing is incredible! It’s a suspense story, yes, and it’s told in three parts, but once again, it’s the characters that make it. And Stephen Leeds’ “aspects” are so fully formed, so incredibly wonderful, that you can’t help but get involved with them.

And if you have an artistic friend, perhaps a writer, this helps you understand how complex characters can be created.

I’ll be re-reading it, I have no doubt. It’s the kind of story that is multi-layered, and psychologically complex.

And I do wish we were still working together because Amber would have had me read this much sooner than I did, and that would have been wonderful. So now, listen to her, listen to me, and go read Brandon Sanderson’s LEGION!

Why are you still here? Go!

    JB

Coming in April is a fascinating history of the Allies’ use of women to work with the Resistance during World War II in preparation for the invasion of Europe.

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Sarah Rose’s D-Day Girls is a heady mix of mission and personality as you get to know these women – Rose takes pain to note that the women involved did refer to themselves as “girls” – the men in charge of the missions in London, and the men hunting them in France.

Rose details the resistance within the Allies to allowing women to have a role in the fight, partly due to the usual, age-old sexism that women can’t or shouldn’t go into battle, partly due to racism (one woman was Jewish and could she be trusted!!), and partly due to real qualms about possible sexual torture if captured. There’s a pageant of humanity in this story – fear and courage, hope and frustration, passion and fury, good and evil – all told with a lively writing style that is somewhere in-between Ben McIntyre, Eric Larson, and Alan Furst.

In one of those strange quirks of history, the man in charge of these heroes was Captain Selwyn Jepson. It was his job to find people to insert into France and it seemed only logical to him that if men were in short supply send women. Jepson was a well-known mystery novelist and screenwriter before and after the war.

It’s a fascinating story with details and dates. I guess I’d always thought that the French Resistance took place throughout the war but Rose shows that the Resistance as a nation-wide organization really only started in 1943, with the women spending ’42 being trained in tradecraft. It was due to the approach of the invasion that the Allies used the Resistance to bedevil the Nazis so that they couldn’t respond well to an invasion. Luckily for us all it worked well enough to allow Normandy to succeed.

Thank god the men got out of the way and let these women do their jobs!

The author notes that the indignities these women went through before going into enemy territory didn’t end then. After the war, they were not awarded to the same extent as the men who did the same thing, their medals were of lesser levels. And then, of course, they were ignored by historians for the last sixty years.

I’m glad Sarah Rose has stepped in to redress this contemptuous treatment.

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