Thursday Quotables – Tan

TAN (David Lawlor) - It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories.‘So long ago… a different world, Liam… How the fuck are ye, and what the fuck are ye doin’ in that get up?’ his voice took on an angry edge.

Liam leaned the rifle against the wall and sat on the bed, suddenly ashamed.

‘I’ve been asking myself the same question a lot these days. I’m sorry I ever got involved with this shower. How are you – apart from hidin’ out in attics, I mean?’

‘I heard you were back, but I didn’t believe what they were sayin’ – you, a Tan…?’

‘It’s a long story. I was in a bad fix in England and thought I’d found a way out.’

‘Well ye got that wrong.’

‘I know. I’m just tryin’ to figure a way out of it all.’

Frank picked up the Lee Enfield and studied it, a professional admiring another man’s tool. ‘What’s to figure? Just go – join me and the boys… put this thing to proper use,’ he said, shaking the rifle. ‘We’re fightin’ for our lives. We need good men, Liam; and you’re one of the best I know, in or out of that stupid fuckin’ uniform. Typical of the Brits, can’t even get a jacket and trousers to match and they still expect to rule this country. The arrogance…’

Liam smiled. ‘Still the same Francie…’

‘That’s Captain Cleary to you, boy, I’ve been elevated,’ he grinned. ‘Look, you can’t stay with that lot, it’s all wrong… fight for your country not these thugs. You’re needed… mind you, it’d take some convincin’ the lads you weren’t some manner of spy, soft head that ye are, but I’d bring them round. What d’ye say?’ the grin was gone and the eyes were deadly serious.

Tan by David Lawlor is one of those rare novels that jumps the more frequented time of the Easter Rising and delves into the painful time that follows in Irish history: the War of Indipendence. As all wars fought at home, this is a time that tasted people in more than one way. A man or a woman had to be really certain of their stance to go through such times.
David Lawlor clearly knows these time very well. His depiction not just of the events, but of the feelings of people and their reasons are so naturally entwined with the story that it’s almost a given. And some of the events described are so detailed and personalthat it almost suggests me they come from true oral history. In spite of the very sparse style, this is a story that involves because of the sheer power of its subject matter.

It is a very ‘male’ story, and I actually appreciated this. In a time where writing strong female characters seem to be the thing to do (and there are a few strong female characters in this story, don’t be misled!), I appreciate the choice to go in a different direction.
It’s a ‘male’ story not just because most of the characters are men doing men’s stuff (namely, war), but because of the kind and quality of the relationships depicted: father and son, brotherly love and friendship and betrayal, virile camaraderie and rivalry. But it also touches more universal themes of love and betrayal, of alienation and belonging.

It’s a good story. Read it!

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This post is part of the Ireland Reading Month organised by 746 Books and The Fluff Is Raging blogs.

“Last year we hosted a whopping 130 posts on all things relating to Irish culture. Books, food, travel, movies, theatre and favourite bookshops – your enthusiasm was boundless and so was your reading.

So this year we hope to be bigger and better.

To celebrate the wealth and breadth and general awesomeness of Irish cultural life, 746 Books and Raging Fluff are co-hosting a month long celebration of all things Irish.”

 

TAN (David Lawlor) - 1919 Stranded in England after WWI, Liam chooses to jain the Black and Tan heading to Ireland to sadate the rebellion. It will be a heartwrenching decision

Give in to the Feeling First Bookversary

Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been absent for so long. Truth be told, my laptop had a problem and I was without it for nearly twenty days. Yeah, I had my mobile and I tried to stay in touch through that… but let me tell you I just can’t do that. It drove me crazy.

But I’m back and just in time for – guess what! – Give in to the Feeling first bookversary!!!!!!

Can you imagine it’s already a year since my baby went into the world? It’s been a rollercoaster of a year (and not just because of the book…), it was exciting at times and – I won’t hide it – very disappointing at others, but I still want to celebrate this little milestone with you. So, just for today, grab Give in to the Feeling for FREE. And when you read it, just spare two minutes for me and let me know what you thought about it. Really anything, good and bad, I’d love to hear it. And if you feel like writing a review, you’ll make me one happy author.

You know? I think I’d should do something to celebrate by bookversary, something that will refresh my darling book. So, since I truly hate my current blurb, why not write a new one? Maybe because I suck at writing blurb? Well… you have a point. But maybe you fell like giving me an hand at this? I’d appreciate your opinion, really I would.
Here’s my new blurb (well, my working new blurb). What do you think?

Give in to the Feeling (Sarah Zama) - Like that first night, he took her hand across the space between them. Unlike that first night, he didn't let go

 GIVE IN TO THE FEELING

Chicago 1924

When Susie arrived from China two years ago, her life unexpectedly changed radically. Simon gave her everything she once barely dared to dream of: a lush carefree life, the New Woman’s freedom to dance, dress daringly and behave as she pleases.
Susie never imagined she would one day want even more, until one night she meets Blood in Simon’s speakeasy and he offers her a dance and his value for her feelings and thoughts.

But she’s still Simon’s woman and he won’t allow her to forget it.

As she fights off her love for Blood, Susie realises the life Simon has given her is just an illusion, but it’s still everything she has and she owns it to him. In the clash between the two men’s personalities, the veil of reality falls and Susie can see right into the spirit world, where not just her heart, but her very soul is at stack. Then she has to choose whether what she really wants is Simon’s safe comfortable golden cage or Blood’s unknown intangible freedom.

I’m undecided about the second half most of all. I can’t decide whether I want to include a reference to the speculative nature of the story or not. On the one hand, I think it’s fair that the reader knows there is a speculative twist, because many readers would gladly read a historical novel, but not a fantasy one. But on the other hand, hard as I try, I can’t seem to be able to include that aspect of the story and not make a mess of the blurb.
Tell, me, tell me everything you think!

 

 

If you fancy to get the book, here’s where you’ll find it. Once again, Give in to the Feeling isn’t on Amazon, but Kindle reader can still get a .mobi file via Smashwords

Give in to the Feeling (Sarah Zama) Banner

SmashwordsBarnes&Nobles | KoboiBookStore
And many other stores

 

And here is my Pinterest board, where in addition to the blog tour pins, you’ll find pins to a few book reviews too

Hope you’ll have a go at my story

Thursday Quotables – The Green Mill Murder (Miss Fisher Misteries)

‘Charles, dear, do stop asking unanswerable questions and pay attention. What about the murder of Bernard? Did you know him?’

‘Yes.’

‘And you knew that he had incriminating photographs of you?’

‘Yes.’ Charles took a cigarette from the box on the table and lit it with a jazz-striped lighter.

‘And you were at the Green Mill to watch him take part in that ghastly dance marathon?’

‘Yes. Mother was nagging  at me to go out with you and I thought that as long as I had to go, I might has well see Bernard in the marathon and watch him break a leg, with any luck. But I never have any luck. If someone was going to kill him, and there must have been hundreds of people who wanted him dead as much as I did, why did they have to choose the night I was there? It looks bad, doesn’t it?’

‘Yes. But there are points in your favoure. One is the fact that you fainted at the sight of blood. The other is the weapon. It still hasn’t been found.’

‘Did they search all those musicians?’

‘Yes.’

‘Because they were all over the body like a rash. Tintagel Stone and Ben.’

‘Yes, but neither had any weapon to kill Bernard. Also, they only came down to see what had happened after he fell, and he was dead when he hit the ground.’

‘They’ll hang me, won’t they? The hangman will come up in a mask and put a bag over my head and a moose around my neck and they’ll kill me, they’ll kill me!’

Charles’ voice had risen to a scream. Phryne slapped him, hard, across the cheek. He gaped at her.

‘You hit me!’ he gasped. ‘ You hit me!’

‘And I’ll hit you again if you don’t pipe down. You’ll rouse the house. You have overlooked the factor that is going to preserve your miserable life.’

‘What?’ asked Charles, hand still capping his reddened cheek.

‘Me,’ said Phryne immodestly. ‘I am a vital factor. I will find out what happened and I will get you out.’

Thursday Quotables Meme

I first came in contact with Miss Phryne through the tv series. I don’t know why, I had a feeling it was going to be a silly show, but since it’s the 1920s and since it’s mystery, I decided to give it a go. I fell in love.

So when I got the chance to read one of the books through NetGalley, I immediately grabbed it. Once again, I was initially put off (it wasn’t the first book in the series and at the beginning I had a hard time getting into it), but then a fell in love all over again.

There is really a lot to love about this series. First of all, Miss Phryne Fisher is a fantastic character: haughty and elegant, but also good-hearted and generous. Clever, educated, self-confident, but also insecure enough to make her not really a superhero.
The cast of characters around her is equally endearing, very easy to love all of them in their own way. This was a huge winning point for me.

The era reconstruction is absolutely outstanding, one of the best I’ve read. It is plain clear this author did a lot of research and – this is the tricky part – integrated them into the story seamlessly. Greenwood’s 1920s world is vivid, real, and still different enough that you know it is not the world we’re living now. Still she depicts it in such natural tones you can’t help feel you’re there.

The mystery was clever and well constructed as well as the investigation. I even like the romantic parenthesis Phryne takes at some point, though that went on for a little bit too long for me (but hey, I’m not particularly fond of romances, so…). I really liked the connection with WWI, which – like all the rest – was integrated beautifully in the story.

It’s a great series. Read it!

 

 

 

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In post is part of the Thursday Quotables mem. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies

 

THE GREEN MILL MURDERA (Kerry Greenwood) - Miss Fisher investigates a few mysteries and a murder, connected to the Green Mill Jazz Club. Witty and clever

Thursday Quotables – Renting Silence

The faint sound of the approaching engine grew steadily louder until it drowned out the fierce pounding of my heart. I had to time my move carefully so I could jump on to the moving ladder and hold on. Closer to the station would be slower and easier, but too close and they’d see me. Too far back and the speed would wrench my hand from the railing and knock me down. I would only get one chance.

The train roared in, brackets squealing as it neared the station. Closer and closer. The moment the engine passed me, blocking me from the sight of anyone standing on the platform, I came out from the steel barrels and started running. The noise was deafening. Wheels screeched against the track, cylinders pounded, steam hissed. The brass bell clanged to signal arrival.

There was no time to think at the very real danger to losing my balance and falling under the wheels. A ladder on a passenger car went by, but I had to let it go. Too fast. The second car could be my last chance – I couldn’t count on there being a third passenger car – so I threw myself on to its ladder, left foot and left hand at the same time. The speed nearly tore my arm from its socket and the whiplash slammed my head against the side of the car, but I reached for the other railing with my right hand and, dazed, pulled myself up the steps. The brackets hissed in protest and moved slower with every second. The acrid odor of the stream cloud engulfed me. On my knees, then on my feet, I climbed the steps and wedged myself into the vestibule between the two cars.

Thursday Quotables Meme

Renting Silence by Mary Maley is part of an ongoing mystery series set during Hollywood silent era. This is the first novel I read in the series (though it’s actually the third in the chronology) and I have to admit, I have contrasting feelings about it.

I really liked the setting, especially when it came to the central part, all set in the vaudeville world. It’s pretty obvious that the author made lots of the research and she depicts a vivid world, where real people live real situations.
Instead I’m not sure how I feel about the author using so many real life people in the story, all related in some way to the main character. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Bob Hope, Myrna Loy and others, all find place in the life of this one character. I’m not particularly keen on the fictional use of real historical people in general, and when they crowd like this…
I’m also particularly wary about some social attitudes: in some instances, these characters sounded and acted too modern for the time period (in my opinion).

The mystery is very good. I think it was clever, one of the best I’ve read lately. That really sounded grounded in the time and place and I liked this. I’m less fond of the way the investigation was conducted. There are places where the getting of information is a bit forced – others when it’s so natural you barely realised you’re given a clue (I love this!). But what really bothered me was the way things which are completely disconnected with the mystery get in the way on occasions, particularly the very long closing episode where, just before the reveal of the mystery, you get several chapters of a train robbery which has zero connection to the main plot.

All in all, I liked the book. It’s easy to read, the characters are easy to love, the mystery is clever. Not an unconditional love, but sure a lot of enjoyment.

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In post is part of the Thursday Quotables mem. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies

 

RENTING SILENCE by Mary Maley - When Jessie is asked by her idol, the famous actress Mary Pickford, if she can do some private investigating for her, Jessie reluctantly accepts. A girl was found stabbed in her bedroom with another woman lying unconscious on the floor next to her, a bloody knife in her hand. With no police investigation into the murder, it's up to Jessie to hone her amateur detective skills and prove the girls innocence before she hangs for murder

Gang Roundup – February 2017

Had a lot of fun with the Gang Roundup in January, guys! Lot’s a good posts to share. I have to warn you that this roundup leans dangerously on the dieselpunk sid, but I do have a few historical posts that I really love.

Hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

 

Bizarre Paintings Of Mecha Robots And Werewolves Attacking East European Peasants Of The Early 20th Century

The World of Scythe is a beautiful 105-page art book showcasing the work of Jakub Rozalski for the board game Scythe, one of the most successful games ever funded on Kickstarter. The book was only made available to backers during the Kickstarter campaign, and is now only available on ArtStation Shop.

I find retrofuturistic illustrations absolutely fascinating. I love the mix of history and fantasy, that sense of displacement that isn’t scary, but reveals something new. I find it exciting.
I discovered the work of Polish artist Jakub Rozalski completely by chance and fell in love right away. Don’t you think it’s absolutely amazing?

The World of Scythe is a beautiful 105-page art book showcasing the work of Jakub Rozalski for the board game Scythe, one of the most successful games ever funded on Kickstarter. The book was only made available to backers during the Kickstarter campaign, and is now only available on ArtStation Shop.

Iron Harvest

Jakub Rozalski also created the setting for for the RPG game Iron Harvest, set in a dieselpunk 1920s East Europe-like world.

1920+ is an alternate version of our own world created by Polish artist Jakub Różalski. In the early 20th century, tradition clashes with progress, and the world is still full of mysteries and secrets.

 

Dieselpunk Lexicon

I’m really enjoying Larry Amyett‘s series about the keywords of Dieselpunk. This month, both his posts were concerned with the ‘era’ of Dieselpunk

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 8: Diesel Era

The most accepted definition of the Diesel Era is that it lasted roughly from the 1920s to the 1950s, although some dieselpunks (like myself) include both World Wars and see the second half of the 1950s as already out of it.
As with most genres, there isn’t a very definite border, besides creatives of all inclinations will always try to blur those borders. As it should be.

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 8: Interbellum Period

“The Interbellum Period had clear starting and ending dates. It began on November 11, 1918, which the day the Armistice went in effect and hostilities stopped in World War One, and ended on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.”

While both World Wars are very popular with dieselpunk authors, the Interbellum Period, particularly the last stretch nearest to WWII, is also very popular because it echoes of a defining characteristic of dieselpunk: the noir mood.
Many dieselpunk stories are drenched in noir mood and they envision a world that is very easily seen in the Golden Age of Hollywood film noir, the 1940s.

 

Surviving the 1930s

For a lucky coincidence, Tome Wilson also spoke about the Diesel Era on The Gatehouse website. This is a fascinating excursus on the historical period, with a particular enphasis on everything that Dieselpunk has gladly adopted as its own.
If the 1920s were a time of excitment, in good and bad, and the 1940s were a dark age inesorably falling into global war, the 1930s were a time in between where the preceeding and following era merged and collided.

 

 

With Copper, Foil, and Paint, a Little-Known American Sculptor Saved Scores of World War I Soldiers from a Faceless Future

I’m always surprised about how little we actually know about WWI. Because of how terrible WWII was, we generally tend to forget about the Great War which preceded it of just one generation, but WWI was truly a devastating experience for the generation of young men and women who were involved (and not just them).

It was a war that made millions of dead and that damaged permanelty (both in body and mind) millions of other.

One of the worst wounds that plagued those veterans of WWI were facial disfigurements. We never think about it because then surgery advanced so much that this was less of an issue in later years. But many young men came back from the war with their faces completely destroyed. I’ve seen photos that truely made me wonder how those poor men could even be still alive, with entire pieces of their face gone.
I can only imagine what it may have mean to live the rest of their life with such a face.

An American artist, Anna Coleman Ladd, took it upon herself to do something for these people. She created delicate masks that recreated the whole face of the injured and that could be disguised on the person’s face with makeup.
It’s an incredible story, one of the many that we don’t know about WWI.

 

Good Night, Angela and Flappers & Jelly Beans

Although in this post author Delynn Royer technically launches her book Good Night, Angela, she also tells of a fascinating place I didn’t even know excisted: the 20th Century Limited. This was an American luxury train, not very different from the European Oriental Express, that travelled from New York City to Chicago. You can see it in the ebove photo… which I have to tell you, is among the most popular photos I’ve ever spotted in the dieselpunk community.
It was nice to learn its history.

 

John Barleycorn Must Die: Today in History, Mock Funerals Took Place Across America as Prohibition Began in Earnest

“On January 17th, 1920, hundreds of fake funerals were held in churches and bars across the country for a man that didn’t exist. John Barleycorn, the anthropomorphic personification of beer and whiskey, was symbolically laid to rest amid cheers and tears at 12:01 AM, January 16th, 1920. These mock funerals saw the actual burial of a bottle effigy, complete with pomp and circumstance. The tone of the ceremony varied widely, however, depending on who was conducting the funeral rites.”

I’ve always found this part of Prohibition funny. Although I’ve read about it in many book and articles, this is the first time that I read about it in details.

 

 

A Proposal to Die For

The opening scene of A Proposal to Die For came to me in a flash: a lady in evening dress reaching for a golden lighter on a mantelpiece to relight her cigarette and then overhearing a few whispered words coming from behind an opulent Chinese silk screen. A marriage proposal, but in the same breath a reference to someone who would be better dead if the marriage is to work out.

I don’t know about you, but that’s an image that really really intrigues me. So this book goes straight in my TBR list, which is growing allarmingly long (and very much 1920s!) lately.

I met Vivian Conroy on Twitter Where she’s a lively animator of the #WritersWise chats. Do come along next time. It’s fun.

 

 

JustSomeMotion

And finally, something that is really only just fun.

Steve Otten is a Düsseldorf native dancer who has become very popular on the net with his reinvention of dancing moves that – in my opinion – have a lot of the jazz/swing era.
He’s featured in an Italian commercial, that’s how I discovered him. Then I learned of his first commercial for a German company.
Have a look, he’s fantastic!

 

 

Gang Roundup - February 2017 - A collection of posts about dieselpunk and history, plus some books and videos