Boy, was December busy!!!
I was hoping for some relax time, what with the Christmas holidays and the month being one of the lowest times at work. Instead, work was crazy as ever (not because the shop was busy, but because there were lots of things to do, and we are understaffed) and the holidays were particularly busy of social engagements (which I enjoy) and things to do.
But I could find some relax, especially the first week, where I caught up on the episodes of the Green Door Podcast (I was so behind it was even embarrassing) and then had some awesome discussion about the first chapters of The Silmarillion. Loved it! If you are of the ‘Tolkien persuasion’ go check the podcast and the Facebook group, I’m sure you won’t be sorry!
I’m trying to rebuild my writing routine, which is proving to be harder than I thought, but hey, I’m trying. Besides, I have tons of things to do writer-wise, and I need to organise myself. At the moment, I’m working my way through The Frozen Maze revision, a part of which I handwrote during NaNoWriMo. Now I need to type into the file, and gearing up to finish it.
I’ve also started to research for the AtoZ Challenge. I’ll just say that I’ll go back to Weimar Germany this year, so prepare to see lots of articles in future Roundups. This one, however, is a bit odd and messy, since I gathered very little this month. But I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve found.
Harlem Hellfighters: The black soldiers who brought jazz to Europe
A friend shared with me this short account about James Reese Europe and how he was one of the first musicians to bring jazz to Europe during WWI.
I’ve always found Europe’s life quite intriguing, I’m not even sure why. He was a remarkable man, a true artist devoted to jazz. Such a tragedy that his life was so short.
I’ve been particularly busy with cinema over these holidays. I had the possibility to see two films set during the Diesel Era (thought they were strictly not dieselpunk film, although they were both fantasy). Both good fun.
The Return of Mary Poppins isn’t really my thing, but I still enjoy it. It was easy, colourful and enjoyable, though a bit too sweet for my taste.
But the setting was gorgeous, and I loved the Lampmen’s dance in particular, so visually fantastic and very skilfully executed.
I finally watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with a friend who’s a Harry Potter fan. It was a very nice girls’ night with the film and talk about Harry Potter and Tolkien.
The film was very nice, just what I hoped for after watching the trailer. The story was quite simple, though my friend tells me it gets already far more complicated in the second film, The Crimes of Grindelwald.
I totally loved the 1920s New York setting. Very dieselpunk… besides, the story can in fact be considered dieselpunk if one wants.
Last year I was caught up in a long list of NetGalley ARCs to read. I must have crossed some kind of level because suddenly I was accorded far more ARCs than it had been the case in the past. I spent most of the year catching up. I’m finally back with a manageable list of novels to read and review, and as you may imagine, most are set in the 1910s/1920s
Forgotten Murder by Dolores Gordon-Smith
Jack Haldean’s newly-wedded bliss is disrupted by a series of shocking revelations in this gripping historical mystery.
When an old schoolfriend of Jack’s wife Betty witnesses a disturbing vision in the garden of a smart suburban house, Jack is intrigued. Just what did Jenny Langton see beneath the cedar tree at Saunder’s Green that frightened her so much she fainted on the spot? Jack’s subsequent enquiries stir up a hornet’s nest of repressed emotions and long-buried secrets. What exactly happened at Saunder’s Green almost twenty years before – and why will no one talk about it? As he unearths evidence of a possible murder, how is even a seasoned investigator like Jack supposed to solve a crime that took place two decades before with no tangible clues, no reliable witnesses – and at least one person who is determined to stop him discovering the truth … whatever it takes.
Read my review HERE
The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.
This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.
Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney
A high-profile murder propels a unique crime-fighting team into the dark environs of London’s underworld—and on a terrifying quest to track a ruthless killer.
London, 1915. As World War I engulfs Europe, a special task force is formed in the affluent Mayfair district to tackle the city’s thorniest crimes against women. When the bobbies and Scotland Yard come up short, there’s only one telephone number to dial: Mayfair 100.
An aristocrat has been murdered, and his wife, a witness and possible suspect, will only talk to a woman. With the blessing of London’s Chief Commissioner, Chief Inspector Beech, a young man invalided out of the war, assembles a crew of sharp, intrepid, and well-educated women to investigate. But to get at the truth, Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby, and Tollman will venture into the the city’s seedy underbelly, a world where murder is only the first in a litany of evils.
Lynn Brittney’s Mayfair 100 series debut, Murder in Belgravia, is the darkly compelling story of a movement far ahead of its time, in an attempt to combat the prejudices against women then and now.
Read my review HERE
In Search of a Witch’s Soul by D. Lieber
Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.
When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.
As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.
Read my review HERE
Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan
Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.
Determined to make a life for herself, Reggie Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.
Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes.
When Hamish has his careful constructed life disrupted by a figure from his past, he is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.
And how about not one, but two music video?
Janet Jackson’s video is just awesome. Nice song, very enjoyable and a spectacular setting with great dance routine. Michael himself would be proud of her.
The other video is an electric swing rendition of a hit I remember well from the 1980s (yes, I was a Europe fan). I really really enjoyed this cover, and the video, though partly amateurish, has a strange charm.
And this is it for now. Hope to have some genuine history to share next month… I do think so.
Such a fine collection of links, Sarah! I like the variety in them, and they all look interesting. Thanks for gathering them together.
Thanks Margot. I would have liked a bit more varity, but I’m hoping for next month 😉
Sara C. Snider
You have been busy finding lots of cool things. I had no idea there was a new Mary Poppins movie, but I did enjoy the Fantastic Beasts film. I have yet to see the sequel. And The Final Countdown cover is great! Probably better than the original. 😉 Glad to see you’re going to do A to Z again. I will probably pass this year, but I wish you the best of luck!
You know, I agree that the cover of The Final Countdown might be better of the original, even if as a kid I adored the original.
I saw Mary Poppins over the Christmas holiday and though it is not really my thing, I did enjoy it. Fantastic Best was also very cool and my friend who already saw the sequel really picked my inteert. Though she said the third film is schedule in two years!!!
I’m working hard on the AtoZ already… but my day job is not helping me…