Monday's Musical Moments

Monday's Musical Moments
Monday's Musical Moments

Josephine Baker's Last Dance

Josephine Baker's Last Dance
Josephine Baker's Last Dance

Monday, February 18, 2019

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENTS: Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.


READ AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


Josephine Baker's Last DanceJosephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.

I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, 'cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world ...

What a life!

I didn't know much about Josephine Baker. I remember watching a movie based on her life, many, many years ago, but I’d forgotten most of it, except for the children she had adopted. This book is a work of fiction, as well, but does offer the reader more than adequate insights into Josephine’s life, both professionally and personally.

It is hard not to feel impressed by Josephine’s bravery and fortitude. She survived things that would have broken the spirit of most people and kept right on living her life with gusto. Her childhood was horrific, but her adult life was utterly fascinating. She was bold, risqué, and multi-talented, and very funny.

This novel captures Josephine’s more interesting escapades in France and Germany and examines the culture-shock she experienced when she returned to the States where she struggled to adjust to the racial inequality in her own country. Her stage shows were racy, but nothing compared to her private life where she had numerous sexual partners and relationships of all stripes.



Josephine’s tenure as a spy for the French Resistance is quite intriguing. Her bravery is exceptional, as she faced fear head on, with aplomb, where, here again, I think many of us would have faltered. The brevity of this section, however, is a little disappointing. There are some sections that are rushed through and the book did end in an abrupt fashion, leaving out some key areas of Josephine’s later years. However, it is quite evident the author went all in on her research, and she does her best to capture the wild and undaunted spirit of the incomparable Josephine Baker.



Overall, this is an interesting look at an early trailblazer for black women in many different areas of life and entertainment. She is still an inspiration to so many people and performers even after all these years. I enjoyed looking some YouTube clips of Josephine while reading this book. She really could dance, but I think she really loved to sing more than anything else. Some of the clips are very grainy due to age, but still worth watching, and of course several clips captured her infamous eye crossings.



I recommend this book to everyone- especially fans of historical fiction and performance art.


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Josephine-Bakers-Dance-Sherry-Jones-ebook/dp/B07CLBPNKB/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/josephine-bakers-last-dance-sherry-jones/1127922757


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Sherry Jones is an American journalist and internationally best selling author of the controversial "The Jewel of Medina" and other historical fiction novels about women's power. She is also a speaker on issues including women's rights, free speech, and Islamophobia.

Her forthcoming novel, JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE, features as its protagonist the 20th-century African-American entertainer Josephine Baker, who was born in the slums of St. Louis, made her fame on the Paris stage at 19, worked as a spy during WWII, and became an important civil rights activist in the United States. A comedian, nude dancer, chanteuse, opera diva, and film star, she was the highest-paid black performer in the world.

Friday, February 15, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Moloka'i by Alan Brennert - Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.


READ AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:




Moloka'i (Moloka'i #1)Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert is a 2004 St. Martin’s Griffin publication. (I read the 2011 Kindle version.)

I know what you're thinking. ‘You haven’t read this book yet?’

Over the years, this book has been recommended to me on more than one occasion, but I just never felt an urgent pull towards it. So, here we are in 2019 and I am just now getting around to reading it.

Although, to be honest, it was the invitation to read the follow up to this book, that gave me the added incentive to work this one into my reading schedule. Now that I have read it, I understand the incredulity of my friends who couldn’t believe hadn't read it before now.

What an incredible story!

I must confess, I knew next to nothing about this period in history. Naturally, since it has a basis in fact, I had to do a little research on it. It is worth noting, that as far I know, there are still a handful of people living in Moloka'i, and will be free to remain there the rest of their lives if they wish, as they may not feel comfortable leaving for various reasons, including the disfiguring aspects of leprosy. Still the whole scenario boggles my mind.

Since so many people have read this book, I don’t suppose anyone needs me to give them a recap of the plot. However, my personal experience with this book was one of shock, sadness, and sympathy for those incarcerated after contracting leprosy.

At the same time, this is also a story of resilience, faith, and hope. Rachel is a character I will not forget anytime soon. Her strength and approach to her unrelenting series of disappointments and losses, is truly inspirational. She took the life she was handed and made the best of it.

Of course, the book also reminds us of how terrified the general public was of leprosy, something we tend to forget in modern times. Those afflicted were obviously stigmatized, feared, and cast out. The method of quarantine was humane, but still felt as though the victim was being punished, forcing an incarceration on them as though they had broken the law. Many years later, a combination of antibiotics effectively controlled the disease, allowing those diagnosed with it to live normal lives again. In more recent times, AIDS prompted the same sort of hysteria and reactions based on fear and bias. It was hard not to make those comparisons, while reading this book, which does help to put Rachel’s plight in context.

Although I did find the writing languid at times, requiring me to refocus a time or two, this story is beautiful, powerful, and has lingered with me for days now. I do regret waiting this long to read this lovely story, so I won’t make the same mistake with the follow up. I’m looking forward to reading Ruth’s story now more than ever.


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Molokai-Novel-Alan-Brennert-ebook/dp/B002H8ORMU/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/molokai-alan-brennert/1100338941

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Alan Brennert is the author of the historical novels Palisades ParkHonolulu (chosen one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post), and Moloka'i, which won the 2006 Bookies Award, sponsored by the Contra Costa Library, for the Book Club Book of the Year (and has sold over 600,000 copies since publication). It was also a 2012 One Book, One San Diego selection. He has won an Emmy Award and a People's Choice Award for his work as a writer-producer on the television series L.A. Law, and his short story "Ma Qui" was honored with a Nebula Award. His new novel, Daughter of Moloka'i, will be published by St. Martin's Press on February 19, 2019. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alan.brennert.

http://us.macmillan.com/palisadespark...
 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Rebel At Pennington By Rachel Brimble - Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

One woman's journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridgeand The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington's Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women's progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.
When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life's challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists' determination to secure the vote.
Will Esther's rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?


MY REVIEW:

A Rebel at Pennington'sA Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Gamble is a 2019 Aria publication.

A compelling romance highlighting the adversity, and the hard choices women were often forced to endure while fighting for the right to vote. These sacrifices also meant making a choice between love and family and the cause they worked so passionately for.

Esther is forced out of her home and sent to live with her aunt after her father remarries and Esther’s women’s rights activism causes a rift. She dresses store windows for Pennington’s, an upscale shop, where she meets the wealthy and influential widower, Lawrence Culford. Lawrence is smitten by Esther and her spunky opinionated ways.

After a loveless marriage ends tragically, Lawrence is determined to marry for love, but a heavy family burden could prevent him from realizing his goal. At the same time, Esther is worried that marriage would prevent her full dedication to a cause that she feels she must fight for at all costs.
I really enjoyed this story, which lightly touches on many angles that activism can take, as well as creating realistic characters who face very real pressures and family dilemmas which are draining and painful.

There are characters we love to hate and characters we cheer for, which shows how great a job the author did with the characterizations. This makes the romance feel more authentic as well. It’s not just the sensuality and passion, but also true love which conquers all the obstacles in the way.

Overall, this is a terrific, well balanced story with a lovely happily ever after!


GET  YOUR COPY HERE:






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In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday- Feature and Review + Giveaway



THE OUTLAW'S
MAIL ORDER BRIDE
Mail Order Bride, #1
by
LINDA BRODAY
Genre: Historical Western Romance Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Number of Pages: 384 pages



SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 







When the West was wild, and man's law favored the few, extraordinary women could be found...in the heart of an outlaw.
Outlaw Clay Colby is tired of living one step in front of the law and wants to see his dream of having a wife, a family, to give his life meaning. So far, he’s been rejected twice, and he won’t try again if this one doesn’t work out. But hope fills him that Tally Shannon will see his heart and help him finish this town where once stood an outlaw hideout. On the day when she’s supposed to arrive, a bitter enemy sets fire to the buildings he’d fought to erect and he’s back with nothing to show for his efforts. There's no woman in the world who'd stand by him now.
But Talley Shannon is no ordinary woman.
After escaping the living hell of the Creedmore Insane Asylum into which she was thrust to die, Tally only wants someone to protect her and the little girl under her care. She doesn't mind that Clay's home is dang near burned to the ground—not when he makes her feel so safe. So cherished. But it's only a matter of time before the ghosts of her past come calling, intent on stealing her happiness, her very life...and her loving cowboy must defend his new bride—and the family they forged—to his very last breath.











The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride (Outlaw Mail Order Brides, #1)The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride, by Linda Broday is a 2019 Sourcebooks Casablanca publication.

Fast-paced adventure with strong, well-drawn characters!

Clay Colby is a former outlaw trying to live his life on the up and up. He’s worked tirelessly to bring law and order to Devil’s Crossing. But just when his new bride is set to arrive, his homestead is set ablaze by a bitter enemy. Now, he’s sure his future wife will decide he’s not worth sticking around for.

Talley Shannon’s life has been very hard. She’s just made a daring escape from a psychiatric hospital, from which she was wrongfully detained, and is trying to build a new life for herself and the little girl she has taken charge of.

Despite the scene she observes upon her arrival, she feels safe with Clay and is determined to go through with the marriage. However, she and Clay both have demons from the past nipping at their heels, and despite the increasingly passionate feelings developing between them, those demons are bound to catch up to them sooner or later-

To be honest, this is the first western historical romance I’ve read in ages and ages. I read my fair share of them back in the eighties and nineties when the genre was super popular- albeit politically incorrect, a lot of the time. (They aren't now, of course!) The genre didn’t entirely disappear, but Regency period romances rose in popularity to the point of pulling off what basically amounted to a coup d'état on the entire genre. All other historical time periods fell from favor after that. Oh, sure, there are still authors out there who stayed with the genre, and newer authors who carved out a niche for themselves writing about the western frontier, but they aren’t nearly as plentiful as they used to be.

While I am a big fan of Sourcebooks Casablanca publishing, and their contemporary writers, by the time I realized they published a few western historical romance series, I was pretty burned out and frustrated with the entire historical romance genre in general- with a few notable exceptions for favorite authors.

But, when I was offered a chance to promote this book on my blog by the publisher and by Lone Star Book Blog Tours, I decided to take a leap of faith- and I am so glad I did!

I loved this story!! The characters are bold and brave, the pacing is brisk, with smoldering sensuality and lots of action and adventure. There is a plot I can sink my teeth into, but it is also a heartwarming and inspirational story.

This book was a very welcome change of pace for me and reminded me of how good these western romances can be, and how much I miss it reading them. I also loved the colorful and vibrant cover of this book which is in keeping with the sweet romantic dances the main characters enjoyed in the story.

Overall, the authenticity and the excellent storytelling, makes this one a five -star read!! I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series.

View all my reviews







PURCHASE THE BOOK iBooks │ Amazon │Barnes and Noble






PRAISE FOR THE OUTLAW'S MAIL ORDER BRIDE:
"Broday’s earthy, no-nonsense characters fit the rugged setting perfectly, and it’s a pleasure to watch these two lonely, cynical souls forge a powerful, passionate partnership." – Book Page “Clay and Tally’s story will captivate the historical western lover in us all. Linda Broday has earned her way into the coveted title of “Queen of Texas Historical Romance.” -- Tonya, Goodreads reviewer “If love is your interest, do not miss this book. I could not put it down it was so compelling.” Cricket, Goodreads reviewer “Trying to put this book down at times was like trying to get off of a high-speed roller coaster -- the kind with twists, turns, and even loops; it's just impossible.” Glenda, Goodreads reviewer








I'm a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys are still caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide open spaces. When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I’ve also been accused (quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic unfold on the screen. As long as I’m confessingchocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.



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FIRST PRIZE: Signed Copy of The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride +  $25 Amazon gift card
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford- Feature and Review






ABOUT THE BOOK:


From the bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes a powerful novel, inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.

For twelve-year-old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World's Fair feels like a gift. But only once he's there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize. The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off--a healthy boy "to a good home."

The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam's precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known--and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he's always desired.

But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.

Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle's second World's Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.

Against a rich backdrop of post-Victorian vice, suffrage, and celebration, Love and Other Consolations is an enchanting tale about innocence and devotion--in a world where everything, and everyone, is for sale.




LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:











MY REVIEW:


Love and Other Consolation PrizesLove and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love and Other Consolations Prizes by Jamie Ford is a 2017 Ballantine publication.

A stirring, poignant story of love in its various stages and forms, crossing oceans and spanning decades-

This is my first novel by Jamie Ford. I haven’t read his bestselling first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but of course, I still plan to someday. This book, though, has been loitering around on my Kindle for a little while, and I’m trying to grab more books from the bottom of the TBR pile this year. This turned out be a great choice.

As the blurb states, the story has a basis in fact, drawing from the raffle drawing at the 1909 World’s Fair, for a young boy!

Earnest Young, a mixed -race young boy, is raffled off to Madam Flora, who runs a brothel. He is stunned to find himself reunited with Fahn, a Japanese girl who was on the boat with him, during his trip to America. In short order, he is also introduced to Madam Flora’s daughter, Maisie, with whom he forges a close bond. Earnest falls in love with both girls. But a series of heartbreaking circumstances threaten to tear the three of them apart for all time…

As difficult as it is to learn about the Chinese and Japanese orphans and the cruelty they were subjected to, and exploitation of these young girls, this book was absolutely riveting and flush with historical details. I fell in love with the characters, and became emotionally invested in their plight.

The story is told with a dual timeline- ‘current day’ 1962, which alternates with the events that transpired in the early 1900’s. The reader knows that Earnest has a wife named 'Gracie' with whom he has two daughters and that Gracie is suffering from an unnamed malady that affects her memories and mood. Running in the backdrop is the Seattle World Fair, which of course brings back all those memories for Earnest, and piques the curiosity of his daughter, an investigative reporter, who wishes to write an article about him.

What we don’t know, is who 'Gracie' really is or what the mysterious ailment is that plagues her, or what secrets Earnest and Gracie have kept from their daughters.

I will admit I did find myself as conflicted as Earnest, understanding how he could love two women, and hoping desperately they found true peace and happiness, and that they all ended up with the person the really wanted to be with. The conclusion was simply lovely and so very bittersweet. I may have dabbed at my eyes just a little, but overall, I was very satisfied with the way things wrapped up. In fact, once I really thought it over, I can’t see how could have turned out better.

After reading this book, I can’t wait to see what wonderful discoveries are waiting for me at the bottom of my seemingly endless TBR pile.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:


https://www.amazon.com/Love-Other-Consolation-Prizes-Novel-ebook/dp/B01N5GV31V/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-and-other-consolation-prizes-jamie-ford/1125362442


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Jamie Ford is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name "Ford," thus confusing countless generations. 

His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into 34 languages. Jamie is still holding out for Klingon (that's when you know you've made it).

Visit him at www.jamieford.com or on Twitter @jamieford.