Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Frightening Truth About a German Diary from the Nazi Era

Robert Scott Kellner talks about his grandfather's diary @ History News Network:
Friedrich Kellner, a courthouse administrator in a small town in central Germany, began his diary on the day Adolf Hitler sent the German Wehrmacht into Poland. He knew the risks in such an undertaking, but as a former Social Democrat who had campaigned against the Nazis before they came to power, Kellner deeply felt the necessity to expose Nazi crimes, record the public's approval of their Führer and the Nazi Party, unmask the truth cloaked by Joseph Goebbels's propaganda, and also lay bare the Allies' many lost chances to prevent the war. Above all else, Kellner wanted to be sure future generations would know the terrible consequences of not defending their individual liberties against totalitarian ideologues with anti-democratic agendas. 

read more here @ History News Network

Review: August Falling by Les Zig

August Falling
For me, this was a quick read - the story of a man recovering from a bad relationship, who becomes infatuated by a mysterious woman with a tattoo in his local cafe. But as the author states, ".. this isn't a love story, it's a story of acceptance and hope. And of finding yourself." So when August (our narrator) finally overcomes some of his social awkwardness and plucks up the courage to talk to Julie, the tale picks up speed as we are taken through the heady days of a new relationship.

It's a light easy read - a narrative of two strangers, with secrets who embark on a new relationship together - but can those secrets in the past be overcome or will they hinder.

read more @ Goodreads and @ Les Zig

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Review: ‘The Mere Wife’

Review by Jennifer Kay of Associated press for Aspen Times:
Maria Dahvana Headley's new novel, "The Mere Wife," is much more than a simple recasting of the ancient epic poem "Beowulf" in the suburbs. It's "The Stepford Wives," 9/11 and English class thrown into a lyrical blender, and it's kind of glorious.

For those who forgot the poem immediately after high school, "Beowulf" is the Anglo-Saxon classic about a warrior who saves a kingdom first from the monster Grendel, then Grendel's mother and then a dragon.

Headley, who also is working on a new translation of "Beowulf," subverts the epic by exploring its good-versus-evil battle from the perspective of women who were largely left on the margins by the ancient bards.

read Beowulf online @ Project Gutenburg

King of the North Wind by Claudia Gold

Henry II conquered the largest empire of any English medieval king. Yet it is the people around him we remember: his wife Eleanor, whom he seduced from the French king; his son Richard the Lionheart; Thomas Becket, murdered in his cathedral. Who was this great, yet tragic king? For fans of Dan Jones, George RR Martin and Bernard Cornwell.  The only thing that could have stopped Henry was himself.

Henry II had all the gifts of the gods. He was charismatic, clever, learned, empathetic, a brilliant tactician, with great physical strength and an astonishing self-belief. Henry was the creator of the Plantagenet dynasty of kings, who ruled through eight generations in command of vast lands in Britain and Europe. Virtually unbeaten in battle, and engaged in a ceaseless round of conquest and diplomacy, Henry forged an empire that matched Charlemagne’s.

It was not just on the battlefield that Henry excelled; he presided over a blossoming of culture and learning termed the twelfth century Renaissance’, pursued the tenets of reason over religious faith, and did more to advance the cause of justice and enforce the rule of law than any other English monarch before or since. Contemporaries lauded his greatness and described him as their Alexander of the West’.

And yet it is the people around him who are remembered: his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he seduced away from the French king; his sons Richard the Lionheart and John; Thomas Becket, murdered in his cathedral. Henry so famed during his lifetime has slipped into the shadows of history. King of the North Wind offers a fresh evaluation of this great yet tragic ruler.

Written as historical tragedy, it tells how this most talented of kings came into conflict with those closest to him, to become the most haunted.

An angry outburst from Henry II provoked the murder of Thomas Becket, once his best friend, in 1170

First Scottish historical fiction festival to be held

BooksFrom BBC News:
The first Scottish historical fiction festival is to be held later this year.

Taking place in Grantown-on-Spey, the event will feature writers Susan Fletcher, Andrew Grieg, SG Maclean, Rosemary Goring and Maggie Craig.

It's Nae the Tudors: Scottish Historical Fiction Festival will be held on 8 and 9 September.

Organiser Marjory Marshall said: "There have been, and are, historical fiction festivals in Scotland, but none focusing entirely on Scots history."

Ms Marshall, who owns local independent bookstore The Bookmark, added: "A great deal of attention has been given to 16th Century British history in recent fiction, and associated film and TV dramas - another film about Mary Queen of Scots will be released later in the year - and I wanted to look beyond that period.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Crystal Smith's Bloodleaf: 2019's hottest YA fantasy

If the buzz surrounding it is any indication, Bloodleaf has a good chance of becoming your next YA obsession. Described as a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ The Goose Girl, the fantasy marks the debut of author Crystal Smith, and was acquired in a lucrative deal out of a heated six-publishing-house auction.

Mixing romance with magic and paranormal intrigue, Bloodleaf centers on young Princess Aurelia. When she’s forced to switch places with her maid, stripped of her title in a devastating betrayal, she ends up powerless in an enemy city and alone for the first time in her life. But even without her crown, she can’t leave politics behind. As her city goes under attack, Aurelia must decide what price she’s willing to pay to save her enemy and reclaim her throne. With an enigmatic prince asking questions Aurelia can’t answer, the ghost of an ancient queen haunting her mind, and an unstable and primordial magic gathering in the air she knows she must fight for her crown — whatever the cost.

The Miasmic Mist by Stephen Grenfell

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The new science fiction action-adventure novel, “The Miasmic Mist: Volume One: Sisters of Aphrodite”, by Stephen Grenfell tells the tale of several characters and the adventures they share, beginning in 1950s Britain. The novel is the first book in a planned trilogy. 

The novel follows the lives of five people: a brother and sister from the British aristocracy, James and Philippa Marchant, a young man, Daniel Gibson, and young woman, Emily Wilkinson, from less elevated backgrounds, and Kelly Aresti, who is the doppelganger of the female upper class woman in a parallel universe. The novel follows the characters from their school days in the 1950s to growing up and entering the workforce.

The men mainly go into military service in the Royal Marines, while the women have more varied paths. One woman becomes a lawyer while the other is studying to be a doctor. Philippa’s doppelganger Kelly is a practicing physician who is the first to pursue the evil presence that manifests itself.

“Baby boomers will certainly identify with the time frame as will others,” Grenfell explains. “There is much for all including much actual history of the time used as a backdrop to the story.”

read more @ Amazon and @ PR Web

Book review: Roman burial art reveals forgotten women of Christianity

Is there such a thing as reverent glee? If so, then that's how I would have described St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk as she bounded among the ruins of ancient Cenchreae, the location of the house church of the deacon Phoebe during a travel program I led. There is something about standing in the place mentioned in our Scriptures that stirs us, and reminds us that our ancestors in the faith were real, historical folks. In this case, a first-century woman whom the Apostle Paul called "our sister, who is [also] a diakonos of the church at Cenchreae" (Romans 16:1).

It is this sense of immediacy that permeates Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity. This connection across the expanse of time makes what could have been a recitation of dusty facts into an engaging read.

While her work makes a valuable contribution to the conversation about women's authority roles within the early church, Crispina and Her Sisters does a mitzvah for academics who investigate early Christian burial practices. Schenk analyzed 2,119 images and descriptors of sarcophagi (stone coffins) and fragments from the third to fifth centuries — "all currently available images of Christian sarcophagi and loculus plates" — focusing on the portraits and their accompanying iconography.

The Napoleon the French Turned Their Backs On

Review from History News Network:
Rarely in history has a country so blindly, maliciously and relentlessly turned against the memory of one of its national leaders in blatant defiance of the historical facts, as French historians have against Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III. And they continue to do so to this day. The complete distortion and denial of Napoleon III’s true achievements began with his arch political opponent, Adolphe Thiers, in his undisguised strongly biased history of this period. Thiers reminds readers that Napoleon III was defeated by Prussian armies in 1870 and brought shame to the country. Overlooked were the real, solid achievements of the Second Empire. 

And yet, despite all his faults, Louis Napoleon’s intentions were honorable and most constructive, providing a long-term legacy, introducing progressive education, new hospitals and a greatly expanding economy thanks to a thriving commercial and industrial revolution. Napoleon III also succeeded in removing some of the shackles of the working class. He completely rebuilt the national economy, created genuine prosperity for the country’s first middle classes, and launched the country into a modern new world.