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A BEAUTIFUL POISON: A Historic Novel ~Lydia Kang

Friday, August 18th, 2017

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of A BEAUTIFUL POISON for review and it was a curious little story that turned into a very interesting tale about Allene a recently engaged eighteen year old living in New York City with her wealthy father.  The timing is centered on the facts that WWI is still drafting young men into service and a Spanish influenza outbreak has taken a powerful hold on the residents of the city and causing havoc.

At her engagement party a young woman dies, it becomes apparent that the guest was poisoned.  Allene engages the help of her 2 friends, Jasper and Birdie, and also turns up the volume on her old fascination with chemistry.   Yes!  Indeed it was a poisoning.  Jasper finds an apprenticeship with the Coroner’s Office located at Bellevue Hospital.   The history and the skill at sleuthing are finely displayed without the assistance of computers or even telephones!  The doctor’s work is revealed and the hospital’s developing services are proudly shared.

Lydia Kang is a doctor who studied at Bellevue Hospital.  She loves chemistry and answering questions with another question to research; her characters display her deep interests in history, chemistry, and problem- solving.  It is a celebration for a period in history that is maybe unknown to the rest of us and yet unfolds within the confines of this story.  Birdie has a very difficult job, which is killing her with a different poison and the story definitely gives a good lesson in the role of women in this society and the radical differences between the wealthy and the poor.

Good story telling and quite an interesting read.  A BEAUTIFUL POISON is not highly suspenseful because it took a great deal of time for the characters to communicate and for a number of people to be identified as being poisoned.

I recommend this story for the history lesson and the details of society at this post -Golden Era period of time in our history.  A very readable story I believe the teenagers I know would enjoy this slice of history and mystery very much.

About Lydia Kang

Lydia Kang is a physician and author of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and currently lives in the Midwest, where she continues to practice internal medicine.

Related reading:
The Worthington Wife
Fudge and Jury
The Garden Plot

REBEL SISTERS: Irish History shared through story ~Marita Conlon-McKenna

Monday, June 20th, 2016

I do think learning history through story is such a good idea. This book is about three specific sisters, who truly existed, and were part of the 1916 Freedom Rebellion in Dublin, Ireland.  Two of the sisters were married to leaders of the uprising; one sister was a volunteer with the organization.  There are songs written about this insurgence and about the young women and their husbands, who became martyrs to the cause for generations to come.

The beautiful sisters are just 3 of the six girls in a family of 12 children. They are protestant and are reared in the wealthy, privileged part of Dublin.  Their mother is strong willed and attempts to thwart their efforts to become part of the Citizen Army, and it is reassuring to know that  she does grow to love her kind and loving son-in-law.  Mother Gifford does see to it that each of her daughters receives a university education and has a plan for her life.  A daughter who is a journalist has left the home fires for America and hopes for a bigger career in writing.   It is also the start of WWI, so the Freedom Fighters are feeling that London will be too busy with the Germans and the war to be able to stop the fight for freedom.  REBEL SISTERS is caught up in the energy of the times and yet has found three individual stories to tell with lots of courageous detail making it also a wonderful love story.

TLC Book Tours sent an early e-copy of the book for  review.  Irish love story and rebellion – it is bound to be a hit and a success for the 100 year celebration of this historic event.

“Marita Conlon-McKenna is one of Ireland’s favourite authors.  Her books include the award-winning UNDER THE HAWTHORNE TREE, set during Ireland’s Great Famine, which has been widely translated and published and is now considered an Irish classic.  Her other books include the bestseller THE MAGDALEN.  She is a winner of the International Reading Association Award in the USA.  She is a former chairperson of Irish PEN.  She lives in Dublin with her husband and family of four children.” (From book cover)

Marita Conlon-McKenna Website

Although REBEL SISTERS is about war on many fronts, it is just beautifully written and it is held in high esteem.  The research is extensive and the personal is well included.  The style has been compared to Maeve Binchy’s form and detailed representation.  The sisters had full lives after the rebellion and made a big difference in the lives of their community from setting up a museum history lesson, to art, poetry, and preserving their husband’s legacy and work.  They are included in the history books as brave spirits to the causes of justice, relieving poverty and hunger, and working towards a more Irish educational system.  Their colleagues are a virtual who’s who of Ireland’s history and leaders.

You may just want to make a fresh pot of tea and enjoy warm Irish Soda Bread while you settle in for a fine read.

Irish Soda Bread link

Related:
Playing St. Barbara
In The Garden of Stone
Letters From Skye

CERTAINTY:An Historic Novel ~ Victor Bevine

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

“The war had proved that much, if little else.  A sword of any kind was as likely to cut down the innocent as the guilty, no matter how many monuments man might build to the grandeur of his own self-importance.” (Page 324 of advance review copy without a final cover)

CERTAINTY is an interesting book to be reading during a mid-term election cycle in the US.  Although it is storytelling about a specific historic event and documented trial notes, it is about a witch hunt, stalking, name calling and just plain lying about other human beings and changing lives forever.  Bevine draws us into defining what is good and evil and whether or not an event will assist us in discerning a truth and finding value for the greater good.

William Bartlett is a young lawyer in 1918 practicing law with a firm in Newport, Rhode Island.  25,000 Naval seamen are in a holding pattern as WWI has ended and most will not be shipped out.  This is a huge population jump for such a small community and the prostitutes have arrived in huge numbers also a group of seamen are dying in the Spanish Flu Epidemic.  There is no space for the troops and nothing to do and a great deal of drinking and malicious activities occurring in the town center and the YMCA.  Reverend Kent is working on developing a Seaman’s Institute and sitting all night with the seamen who are dying, being a caregiver, when he is accused by the 3 Navy men of unseemly acts and homosexual behavior; preying on the men not praying for them.

The church would like Rev. Kent to plead guilty to a lesser charge and then to move him out of town with no fanfare and little publicity.   Bartlett and Kent decide to take a moral stand and bring the false accusations out into the open, because Kent is innocent and a very caring individual.  What is discovered is that a particularly fervent Naval Officer, who can identify homosexuals and deviant by their walk, sets up a group of 48 seamen to entrap the “fairies” in their midst who are causing all the problems.  An earlier round of McCarthyism goes into the history books and a great many men’s lives were altered forever.

“As the trial unveils more shocking secrets – secrets that shake Newport and reverberates all the way up to the federal government”- William  Bartlett could lose everything also. (Temporary cover of the advanced copy of the book)

CERTIANTY’s author Victor Bevine, a graduate of Yale University, discovered this trial and story when escaping a downpour by sheltering in a bookstore.  He first wrote a play about this event and now has turned it into a novel so that more people will be informed.  Bevine is an actor, screenwriter, director, narrator of audiobooks, and sports entrepreneur who resides in NYC.

Victor Bevine Facebook

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of CERTAINTY to review and I believe that readers who like historic based fiction and military fiction will enjoy diving into CERTAINTY.

Related:
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island 
Playing St. Barbara
Muckers
A Snug Life Somewhere

DANCE THE MOON DOWN: WWI Historic Novel ~R.L. Bartram

Sunday, March 9th, 2014


DANCE THE MOON DOWN was a retreat from the rain and wind storm and all the disturbing news about possible war, and yet it is about a war and how difficult it was to experience that event first hand.  It is a story about how women’s lives were changed by WWI in the UK and how after experiencing such horrific events the whole world makes a shift; valid until we endeavor to create war again.

The novel gets its name from the young people who fought WWI who were known as the DANCE DOWN THE MOON to ragtime generation.  Today we talk about the ME Generation, the X Generation and the Baby Boomers when we describe other young people.  Victoria the main character of the story is a representative of that group, who is not part of the gentry but grew up with a Physician Father and a tradition steeped mum.  Victoria’s father insisted that she attend university and her mother thought it unnecessary and might even ruin her opportunities for a good marriage.   Victoria did attend university and her roommate was Beryl a suffragette.

Young Victoria’s husband, a poet, is sent off to fight in the war just a few months after their marriage.  The primary characters in the story then become all the different ways that women experienced the war at home.  Victoria’s income becomes not enough to find lodging and food and she ends up working on a farm which is attempting to meet government quotas to feed the population and keep an island from starving during the conflict.  She is not a LAND GIRL with adequate income because of her connection to the suffragette movement and her friend Beryl.   Victoria’s husband is MIA for 4 years and she fights to find out where he is located; yet another strike against her.

The writing is quite formal and has a simplicity that makes the story very real to the events of this period in history.   I could readily believe that Victoria did not know how the poor women coped or survived; she did not take a big political stand and yet she improved the circumstances for some in her own wisdom, with some modesty and embarrassment.  The style of writing very much captured the mood and was quite realistic and informative.   Bonds of friendship developed that could have only happened during a war and changed the people.  I liked that the novel focused on women’s experience.  The story had a good romance, but the work, strength and understanding were far greater in importance.

I thought this was a newer perspective and loved the more formal style.  I also liked watching the BBC History Series such as: Call the Midwife, Wish Me Luck, Farm Girls, Bletchley Circle, and Island at War which were primarily about WWII.  DANCE THE MOON DOWN is definitely in that league and truly highlights women’s role in that segment of history. Another opportunity to learn history with a grand story attached.

Robert Bartram the author sent me a PDF copy of this book and it was a pleasure to read DANCE THE MOON DOWN.  Thank you

About the author in his own words: “Having first put pen to paper at the age of 17, he has now been writing for a number of years and many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.  His two main passions in life are writing and the history of the early twentieth century, which made ‘Dance the Moon Down’ a logical choice for his first full length work of fiction.  He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.”  He dedicated this book to his mother.

Robert Bartram on Facebook 
Author’s page on Amazon UK
This is an Authors Online UK book 

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Donations also welcomed. Thank you.

Recommended:
Letters from Skye 
The Best of Daughters
Playing St. Barbara
Songs of Willow Frost