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review 2019-01-16 02:06
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE INCREDIBLE JOSEPHINE BAKER
Josephine Baker's Last Dance - Sherry Jones

Josephine Baker is someone I had known about since my elementary school days in the mid-1970s, when I first saw her profile in a calendar celebrating what was then Black History Month. I was fascinated to learn that she had gone to Paris in 1925 and made herself into a superstar in France and across the world. 

"JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" was given to me last month as a Christmas gift. The essence of the novel has as a centerpiece, what was Josephine Baker's last great stage performance in Paris in April 1975. The author uses it as a springboard to take the reader back to Josephine's early years in St. Louis, where she was born in poverty in 1906. I very much enjoyed seeing Josephine as she grew and matured. Hers was not an easy life. There is much in the novel that conveys the struggles and abuse that she endured. America was then an unwelcoming and at times, brutal and dispiriting place for its black citizens. Baker gets into vaudeville as a dancer in her mid-teens and eventually, the gateway to stardom opens and Josephine arrives in Paris with La Revue Nègre . 

The only part of the novel I found fault was its description of Josephine Baker's service in World War II as an intelligence agent and member of the French Resistance. The time sequences which covered the early war years seemed at times nebulous and compressed. If the reader had little or no knowledge of how the French defeat to Nazi Germany impacted the country in June 1940, he/she would be led to think that the resistance movement to the Germans developed overnight. That was not true at all. There was, initially disillusionment and fear when the Germans entered Paris - which had been declared an open city by the French government - on June 14, 1940 - and compelled the French to sign an armistice 8 days later. It would be several months to a year before an incipient resistance movement began to take shape in France as the Germans solidified their power and authority there. 

There was also a mention in the novel which indicated that Josephine Baker made the acquaintance of the courageous British spy Krystna Skarbek, a Pole (aka 'Christine Granville') during the early days of the German Occupation. That is simply untrue. (I read a book in 2015 about Krystyna Skabek's wartime service --- 'Christine: SOE Agent & Churchill's Favourite Spy'. Krystyna Shabek did not get to France until the summer of 1944. Earlier, she had been engaged in espionage work since late 1939 in German-occupied Poland, the Balkans, and Egypt.) That is why I am taking away 1 star and giving "JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE" 3 stars.  Outside of that glaring, historical inaccuracy, it is a very good novel which brought out the real Josephine Baker in so many interesting ways.

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review 2019-01-14 20:08
Cry Fox
Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox - Ben Aaronovitch

It is no secret I'm a fan of the Rivers of London series and one of the things I like is the multiple ways in which the story is told, e.g. here the graphic novel. Like its predecessors it is good in keeping you entertained while waiting for the next novel in the series.

Cry Fox only contained four issues so it was a very fast read. It was a take on a very well known tale which was maybe not the most surprising or original but the nice cast of characters make up a lot. As one of the characters plays a role in the sixth book, The Hanging Tree, it is best read after it. At the end there is some more information about the Fox in several cultural and literary settings.

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review 2019-01-14 19:55
Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick - Laurent Queyssi

Philip K. Dick was a very well known science fiction writer, but I have not read anything by him besides Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which became the movie Blade Runner). I was mostly interested in the comic biography form, but was also glad to learn more about Dick's complicated life.

This was not the most in depth analysis of the author or his work, but I think it worked quite well for those who just want to know a bit more about him. I certainly learned new things, one of the most shocking the shear amount of novels the man wrote in a very limited window. 5 in one year alone.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-01-14 19:43
Waves
Waves - Ingrid Chabbert

Waves was a beautifully told story about hope and loss and what it takes to find hope again. The story floats as much as you would expect from the title. The illustrations were really nice and for me they helped a lot to make the story more powerful and added much to the story.

While it was a quick read for me, it was one that stayed with me for quite some days, so I was very glad Netgalley granted my wish on this one.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-01-14 19:32
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Ripley's Believe It or Not - Tony Isabella

I went into reading this without any knowledge of Ripley's Believe It or Not. I believe it was once suggested for a London city trip, but just as quickly abandoned. However, reading about some strange facts never seems to bore me, so I gave it a try.

I didn't care much for the artwork, it felt very comic-y and not much refined. However, some of the short stories were quite interesting although quite a few of them were already known to me. The Irish Giant for example, was one of the oddities I did see on the aforementioned London city trip, where it still stands in the Hunterian museum. There is always a short comic followed by some information around the topic.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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