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text 2017-05-19 19:30
RT Booklover's Convention 2017 - Day Two
Outfoxed by Love (Kodiak Point Book 2) - Eve Langlais
What a Lady Craves - Ashlyn Macnamara
Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War - Lauren Willig,Joshilyn Jackson;Hazel Gaynor;Mary McNear;Nadia Hashimi;Emmi Itäranta;CJ Hauser;Katherine Harbour;Rebecca Rotert;Holly Brown;M. P. Cooley;Carrie La Seur;Sarah Creech,Jennifer Robson,Marci Jefferson,Jessica Brockmole,Beatriz Williams,Evangeli
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
Ten Days in August - Kate McMurray
Kissing the Captain - Kianna Alexander
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins
The Lawyer's Luck: A Home to Milford College prequel novella - Piper Huguley,Piper Huguley
Tycoon - Joanna Shupe

Day One post



Wednesday (May 3rd) was the official start to the convention. I skipped the 7am work outs since I was still jet lagged, but I could only make myself get a few hours of sleep (a habit that lasted the entire convention). I hit up the coffee shop for a venti-sized tea and a piece of banana bread (I don't trust hotel catering to have enough food for all attendees) and met up with a fellow COYER group member and BL'er Lexxie (Unconventional Book Views)! After having breakfast with Lexxie, I went to the welcome breakfast; the guest speaker was Karen Robards. I thought she did an okay job opening the convention, but it seemed a lot of her speech was about previous, long ago RT cons and not much about this one. That was another theme - most attendees are long time RT convention goers and there is a feeling of cliques and talking about the old times. Then the staff at RT each had to take the mic to talk (boring)...which authors in attendance used that time to start pushing their books to the readers at their tables. Lots of aspiring and current authors writing "dark, gritty" romantic suspense is my take away.


First reader event I went to was Trope Bingo. The organizers did not plan to have so many people attend this event and ended up scrambling to set up more tables. Then more people showed up after another reader event closed due to running out of supplies. I had fun at the Bingo and met some readers that wanted to talk about what their favorite/least favorite tropes were.


Next I went to the Maple Syrup and Mounties reader event. This was one of the best reader events of the convention! Funny, smart ladies (authors Viola Grace, Lucy Farago, Eve Langlais, Ashlynn Macnamara, and Mandy Rosko) who organized and prepared for the crowd. The swag was pretty great too. FYI: Eve Langlais is pretty damn proud that she was able to put a moose shifter romance on the best seller list (Outfoxed by Love) and Ashlynn Macnamara is proud of her books' butt covers (Eton Boys Trilogy). These authors not only enjoyed interacting with the audience (it was a rowdy quiz type of event), but they seemed to really enjoy being around each other. One of my highlights of the convention.


Lunch time and then I stood in line for the one reader event I was most looking forward to - the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books Reader Recommendation Party! It definitely lived up to my expectations. I ended up winning a raffle, so I took home a short story collection centered around World War I called Fall of Poppies. I have been eyeing this book for some time now and when I saw it on the prize table I had to grab it. The Bitches were as lovely and funny as they are on the blog and on the podcast. Another big highlight for me, as it was truly about the readers talking about books with other readers.


Some books recommended:

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne (historical set during the French Revolution)

The Iron Duke Series by Meljean Brooks (steampunk)

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (paranormal)

Blood on the Earth (Soulwood #1) by Faith Hunter (spin-off of the Jane Yellowrock series)

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace #3) by Vanessa North (f/f contemporary featuring a trans woman as one half of the couple)

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (historical)

Bedchamber Games by Tracey Anne Warren (historical)

The Glassblower Series by Petra Durst Benning (historical)

Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy)

The First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (sports contemporary romance)

Rites of Passage (Tulsa Thunderbirds #4) by Catherine Gayle (sports contemporary romance with HIV+ characters)

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet (fantasy)

Anything by KJ Charles pretty much



The SBTB party was still going but I left after winning so I could make it to my first author panel, Welcome to Americana, featuring Alyssa Cole, Kianna Alexander, Kate McMurray, Beverly Jenkins, Piper Huguley, and Joanna Shupe. What a great discussion! Everything from the state of American historical romance (in terms of what is being published right now) to how they go about researching the history for their stories. Kate McMurray has a really great blog post on her website in regards to POC/LGBT+ people in historical romance not being present in mainstream historical romance and that readers really have to search to find the authors that are writing outside the mainstream. Most importantly, American historical romance is oversaturated with cowboys and mail order brides - and these authors are trying to expand American historical romance to include POC/LGBT+/urbanites. Everyone on the panel had some very thought-provoking things to say about racism, sexism, homophobia, and historical romance writing. Shout out to reference and research librarians for providing plot bunnies and historical research for the authors.


Took a much needed break from all the people, then headed to the Petticoats & Pistols party. Here the organizers actually had a big enough room that attendees could walk and mingle about without being crushed. I enjoyed the outfits the authors and cover models wore and the design of the party. Probably my favorite social event of the convention - it was low-key enough to take in at my leisure, but high-spirited enough to build excitement for the attendees. Here I got to meet Merry Farmer, a personal favorite of mine and talk with Joanna Shupe about her panel I attended. Shupe encouraged me to try my hand at writing historical romance. Maybe....someday.


After the party I was tired from being around so many people all day, so I got dinner and headed to my room. I didn't expect or intend to make this a very historical romance intensive day, but it is my favorite subgenre. So many new to me authors to try.

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text 2017-03-06 12:17
Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 400 pages.
The Great War and the Middle East - Rob Johnson

I'm reading this right now to review it for a publication so I won't be able to post a review here, but so far it's proving quite good. I've long been disappointed by the lack of a really good history of the First World War in the Middle East. This book seems to finally fit that bill; though it's far from a definitive account, Johnson provides a good analytical overview of events, including aspects of the war (such as German efforts to stir up Islamic revolution in Iran and Afghanistan) that have only been mentioned in passing elsewhere.

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review 2016-12-09 04:26
Meeting the Enemy: The Human Face of the Great War - Richard van Emden

"MEETING THE ENEMY: The Human Face of the Great War" provides the reader with different perspectives of how the war --- on a uniquely human level --- impacted upon civilians and combatants alike in Britain and Germany between 1914 and 1918.


When Germany mobilized for war on August 1, 1914 (having already declared war on Russia; she would declare war on France 2 days later), many British residents and tourists in Germany began to sense that Britain many soon enter the conflict against Germany. And so, many of these residents and tourists began to leave the country by whatever means were near to hand.


"One Englishman looking to leave Berlin as quickly as possible was a fifty-one-year-old language teacher ... Henry Hadley. A former army officer in the West India Regiment, he took his cue to go on the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Germany. Deciding to catch a train to Paris, he quickly sorted out his affairs in the German capital and then, the next day, returned to his rented apartment and packed his bags, leaving early the following morning." Hadley and his housekeeper, Elizabeth Pratley, travelled by train from Berlin to Cologne without incident. It was when their train approached Gelsenkirchen that matters began to get out of control. Service was slow. Hadley became upset with a waiter and a heated exchange took place in close proximity to a group of dining German Army officers. Hadley made his way back to Mrs. Pratley and asked her to keep watch over the luggage. He said he wouldn't be long in returning. Hadley went into an adjoining corridor on the train. Mrs. Pratley "heard loud noises followed by sounds of a scuffle. She rushed outside to find [Hadley] lying on the floor. 'They have shot me, Mrs. Pratley. I am a done man,' he gasped. A German officer, later identified as Lieutenant Nicolay, had fired his revolver at point-blank range, hitting [Hadley] in the stomach. The Germans then turned their attention on Mrs. Pratley." While Mrs. Pratley was taken away for questioning, Hadley was taken to a hospital in Gelsenkirchen. He died there a few hours later in the early morning of August 5, 1914, shortly after Britain had declared war on Germany. The British government soon learned of Hadley's death and made some inquiries with Berlin, none of which proved satisfactory. (Lieutenant Nicolay was exonerated.) Mrs. Pratley was later released and allowed to return to Britain soon thereafter.


The book goes on to considerable lengths to show how both Britain and Germany dealt with "enemy aliens" in their midst, both during the earliest days of the war and in subsequent years of the conflict. A lot of the stories involving many of the enemy aliens and their families were often tragic and sad, amid the rise and spread of war hysteria. This was especially true in Britain, which had far more naturalized Germans and German and Austrian internees than Germany had British and Empire internees.


"MEETING THE ENEMY" also examines the varied relationships the rival combatants (soldiers and airmen) had with each other throughout the war, both on the front lines (e.g. the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the more limited one that took place the following Christmas - a practice British higher military authorities ruthlessly discouraged) and at POW camps in Germany and Britain. There was an instance in which the Germans, in February 1917, moved a group of British POWs to the Eastern Front, where they were forced daily to work on digging German support trenches and made to sleep in appalling conditions in ragged tents on non-salubrious terrain in the bitter winter weather. This was done for several months as a sort of tit-for-tat because Britain had some German POWs engaged in labor activities at some of the French ports and in areas less than 20 miles from the front. Both countries failed to come to an agreement to resolve this matter of POW employment at the front til later in the year. By that time (November 1917), of the 500 British POWs sent to the Eastern Front to perform hard labor, only 72 returned to prisoner of war camp in Germany. I was both angered and shocked to learn about this incident on the part of the Germans in World War I. (Something of that magnitude I had expected of the Germans in World War II in certain instances. For example, their treatment of Soviet POWs and their murder of 50 captured Allied airmen as a result of the "Great Escape" in March 1944. But not in the earlier conflict in which both sides tended to observe some sort of chivalric code, which was a throwback to earlier norms of warfare in Europe.)


This was the second book related to World War I that I've read from Richard van Emden. And I learned so much from it, because "MEETING THE ENEMY" made me see more keenly than ever how that war impacted on both combatants and societies concurrently.  All in all, this is a very readable, well-written and scrupulously researched book that comes highly recommended. 

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review 2016-07-05 01:53
Interesting stories about the futility of war
Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War - Lauren Willig,Joshilyn Jackson;Hazel Gaynor;Mary McNear;Nadia Hashimi;Emmi Itäranta;CJ Hauser;Katherine Harbour;Rebecca Rotert;Holly Brown;M. P. Cooley;Carrie La Seur;Sarah Creech,Jennifer Robson,Marci Jefferson,Jessica Brockmole,Beatriz Williams,Evangeli

Fall of Poppies: Stories Of Love And The Great War
***I won this book from Library Thing as part of the Early Reviewers program. It is a book of short stories which take place during WWI. It covers the impact of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, on the troops of and the families awaiting the return of their loved ones. There are many similarities linking the stories which I think will lend themselves to lively book discussions about the causes of war, its devastating effects on the victims, and the futility, and ultimate result of war. All of the stories share common themes like loss, fear, courage, and danger, but the main ideas running through all are loneliness, romance and love.
The first story, “The Daughter of Belgium” by Marci Jefferson, takes place in Belgium after its occupation by Germany. It details the atrocities committed by marauding soldiers against those perceived as their enemies, even though they may be innocent civilians. Amelie witnessed the death of her parents because of her anti-war activities. She has been hidden by nuns. Working in their hospital, she learns how to nurse the victims of the war. When she is charged with caring for a German soldier, she balks, but does her duty. As they discover more and more about each other, their differences grow less important and their love blooms.
In the second story, “The Record Set Right” by Lauren Willigs, a young girl is adopted by relatives after the death of her parents. Camilla is only 9 when she arrives at Carrington Cross, England, and immediately falls in love with her cousin Edward. She also admires her cousin Nicholas, but discovers that too late. After Edward returns from the war with devastating facial injuries and Nicholas returns missing a limb all of their lives take a surprising turn.
In the third story, “All For the Love of You” by Jennifer Robinson, soldiers returning to Paris from the front with devastating facial injuries are provided with excellent portrait masks from a studio supported by The Red Cross. They were so realistic that they stopped the stares of passersby before they started. Daisy Fields worked there as a volunteer and it was there that she met Captain Mancuso and fell in love with him. Both were Americans in Paris. Before he left for America, Daisy fell gravely ill and never heard from him again. Although she asked her father to help her find him, he refused. This is their story.
In the fourth story, “After You’ve Gone” by Evangeline Holland, Morven, a professional dancer is leaving Paris. It is Armistice Day. Her husband Charles was killed in action forcing her to make a living in a disreputable way. In a strange set of circumstances, she is confronted by a man named Sidney Mercer who recognizes her. He turns out to be a relative of her husband. He is quite good looking, and although at first she rebuffs him, the two are taken with each other. Sidney wants to open a nightclub in Europe where people of color are more easily accepted. He hopes Morven will dance there. However, Morven goes to America, and Sidney goes back to serve his country until he is discharged. As secrets are revealed, the lives of Morven and Sidney find a direction.
In the fifth story, “Something Worth Landing For” by Jessica Brockmole, A young soldier, Wes, who is about to ship out to the front, performs an act of extreme kindness for a strange woman called Victoire. At a medical office, he spies her crying. Although she is abrupt with him, when he discovers she is in a family way, he chooses to rescue her. He is expecting to die at the front anyway. This tender love story is told partially through letters Victoire sends to Wes.
In the 6th story, “Hour of the Bells” by Heather Webb, we meet Beatrix. The war has taken one of her sons and her husband. When her youngest son decides to enlist, she begs him to stay home. She was of German background, and there was a backlash against her and her son Adrien. When informed that Adrien had also died, she gathers her husband’s dynamite and sets off to avenge both of their murders. As the bells toll signifying the end of the war, a miracle occurs and saves her from committing such a violent act.
In the 7th story “An American Airman in Paris” by Beatriz Williams, the stupidity and mistakes of war are highlighted as the reader witnesses the effects of the war on its victims who have suffered loss and deprivation. They hunger for love.
The 8th story veers in a different direction, although it is in the same time frame. It is about a family about to attend a ceremony to honor an aunt who was involved in the Irish Rebellion. Behind a photograph of Aunt Eileen is a picture of a British soldier, Clive Postlethwaite. He was not sent to the front, but rather to Dublin to defend England against the Irish rebels. This is a story that tries to confront the prejudices that existed then in order to correct them now.
In the 9th story, “Hush”, by Hazel Gaynor, it is Armistice Day, and a nurse has delivered a baby. When the baby refuses to breathe, she pleads with the baby to live. At the same time that this is happening, her son Will is at the front and has been injured. A shell exploded and trapped him under the debris. He, too, was unable to breathe. This story has a mystical quality which connects both the newborn child and her son.
Although I found the stories interesting, I also found them to be a bit like fairytales. Some of the love stories seemed contrived, and some of the endings seemed to stretch credulity. Still, the selections truly highlighted the futility of war and its terrible cost to the victims, the families and the soldiers

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review 2016-06-21 05:45
Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War - Lauren Willig,Joshilyn Jackson;Hazel Gaynor;Mary McNear;Nadia Hashimi;Emmi Itäranta;CJ Hauser;Katherine Harbour;Rebecca Rotert;Holly Brown;M. P. Cooley;Carrie La Seur;Sarah Creech,Jennifer Robson,Marci Jefferson,Jessica Brockmole,Beatriz Williams,Evangeli

I received this book for free through the Reading Room’s giveaways.


Like most short story collections, I liked some stories more than others.


The Daughter of Belgium; I thought this was a solid first story. It wasn’t super romantic but it got me excited for the rest of the book.


The Record Set Right: I liked this story but I was so confused at first. I had a hard time figuring out how everyone was related and what happened in the past. But once I got to the end, I understood it.


All for the Love of You: This was my favorite story. It was so romantic. Plus I learned a lot of about the masks that were made for soldiers with damaged faces.


After You’ve Gone: I didn’t love this one but I did appreciate the fact that it was the only story with people of color.


Something Worth Landing For: This was written by Jessica Brockmole who I am familiar with. I read her book Letters from Skye and loved it. This story also features letters. Overall, this was another solid story.


Hour of the Bells: This story was different because it was about love between a mother and her son. It felt a bit out of place in the collection.


An American Airman in Paris: This was written by Beatriz Williams who I am also familiar with. I read her book, The Secret Life of Violet Grant. Both that book and this story talk about sex frequently. This story by far had the most frank discussions about sex out of all the stories. I honestly didn’t like this story. I just couldn’t connect with it.


The Photograph: I really liked this one. This story focused on the British’s occupation of Ireland during WWI, which I liked because it offered a different perspective on the war.


Hush: I also really liked this one. The author (Hazel Gaynor) did an amazing job. It was so beautiful to read.


Overall, I liked how these stories showed what it was like living through WWI. It highlighted the fears that young men had when they went off to war, as well as the struggles civilians had to go through.

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