• Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    The Removes

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY TATJANA SOLI REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In the late 19th century, General Armstrong Custer embodied the mixed feelings of Manifest Destiny in the United States, and this book not only depicts the uneasy alliance people had with the handsome soldier, but also evokes the feeling in the reader as well. This novel weaves together the story of Custer, known as “Autie” to his wife, Libbie, with the story of a young, white pioneer girl who is captured by the Cheyenne during a frontier raid. The author does not shy away from the gruesome historical details, and there are times that one can almost smell the blood in the prairie…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    Kiss of the Spindle

    Published in 2018 WRITTEN BY NANCY CAMPBELL ALLEN REVIEW BY KATIE STINE The titular Sleeping Beauty in this fairy tale retelling set in the steampunk version of Victorian England is Dr. Isla Cooper. She is an empath for shapeshifters, an embattled class of people, but in her spare time, she looks after her younger sister. In an attempt to gain some unchaperoned freedom, the younger sister administers a sleeping curse to Isla that has unforeseen consequences. Undaunted by adventurous research, Isla blackmails her way on board an airship (because steampunk) bound for the Caribbean to find the witch who made the curse. Shifters, politics, automatons, love, and a small monkey ensue. While the…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    The Dutch Wife

    Published 2018 WRITTEN BY ELLEN KEITH REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In 1943, a Dutch woman, Marijke, is arrested with her husband in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. They are both sent to camps—her to Ravensbrück, him to Buchenwald—as political prisoners, a higher echelon of inmate. When Marijke is offered a chance to be a prostitute at a new prisoners’ brothel at Buchenwald, she goes—hoping that she will find her husband. Instead, she finds Karl, an SS officer who finds her to be the distraction he needs from the unseemly duties of overseeing torture and executions. Thirty years later, a young man in Argentina, Luciano, is taken by the Peronist regime for attending student protests. Among the…

  • Writing

    Peculiar Ground

    Published 2017 WRITTEN BY LUCY HUGHES-HALLETT REVIEW BY KATIE STINE Set in both the 1660s and the 1960s, this debut novel explores the workings of a fictional English manor house called Wychwood. In the 1660s world, the newly restored Lord Woldingham hires landscape architect Mr. Norris to create the elaborate waterways that will eventually mark the estate. While fastidious in his work, Norris misses many subtle clues to the delicate social balance of the Wychwood residents, recovering from the upheaval of the Civil War and the Restoration. Norris blunders into many unenviable positions, driven not only by his desire to create beauty, but also his desire for Lord Woldingham’s niece, Cecily. Pursuing Cecily’s…

  • Lady reading
    Writing

    Book Reviews

    I have been writing book reviews for the Historical Novel Society for almost two years now. While those reviews are published in the Historical Novels Review, I wanted to publish them here as well. Starting next week, Mondays will be a previously-published Book Review from the Historical Novel Society. Why am I doing this? In conversations with friends and family, my book recommendations are often those I’ve read for review. In one instance, my brother-in-law recommended a book that I had already reviewed! He’s the one who is on the cutting edge of tech and news, but this time, tables were turned. But not everyone reads the Historical Novel Review…

  • Writing

    A Eulogy for Carl

    Last week we said goodbye to Carl the cat. I’d like to say that he was a good cat, a good pet, but he wasn’t really. He was his own personality, his own guy, and to say that we were his owners is disingenuous and not true to his character. Crawlspace Kitty Carl came to us in Decatur, Georgia, in 2009, full-grown, but hurt. Andy and I had been away at my father’s funeral. We returned, rolling suitcases across the hardwood floor, stopping when we heard a meowing begin from underneath the house. It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t harsh: it was constant: meow-meow-meow-meow-meow. We looked at each other, and abandoning…

  • Adventure,  Travel

    Cuba: Day 3

    There is so much to do in La Habana. There are old buildings to gawk at, street art to discover, museums-that-are-also-working-pharmacies to wander through. This post is only covering the morning of Day 3 because DUDE. The Colon Cemetery. So much. Ahem. So, the morning of our 3rd day, we took the time-honored traditional tourist excursion: the hop-on, hop-off bus. This red double decker bus makes a loop around some of the farther out sites and then returns back to Central Parque. The one thing I wish we had known ahead of time: The bus follows the same route away from Habana Viejo as it does returning. We would have stayed on top…

  • Adventure,  Travel,  Writing

    Cuba: Day Two

    We woke up in La Habana. It felt surreal, dreamlike; the way Latin American authors write about magical realism, that which is true, but cannot be. Breakfast was Cuban coffee (distilled and black and delicious even to a heavy tea-drinker like me), a bowl of fresh fruit (bananas and papayas and pineapple, and something else I never quite figured out), and eggs with a slice of cheese, a slice of ham and a slice of tomato. We chatted with the other travelers at the table, and Adele, a British lady was nice enough to give me a stash of PG Tips tea bags. I had not brought any with me (I…

  • Adventure,  Travel

    Cuba: Day One

    Oh, Cuba. Even preparing for Cuba, I was at a loss. What to pack? I’d read many personal accounts and had friends who’d been there, but Cuba seemed to change daily. What was one person’s experience, was not at all how another experienced the trip. There were some things I wish I had known beforehand, such as the rapidly changing circumstances. Travel We took the first flight out of Jacksonville, FL to Miami, and then what appeared to be the earliest flight from Miami to Havana. We bought our visas at the gate, amidst a crowd of people from many different countries. Still, this step, which some airlines seemed happy…

  • Adventure,  Travel,  Writing

    Cuba! An Introduction

    I wish I could tell you all about Cuba. But I don’t know enough. I wish I could tell you all about the history of Cuba, but I am unqualified. I wish I could tell you all about Cuba today, but there are too many things I didn’t even see. Cuba seems to change on a daily basis, a world shifting and changing to suit its own needs. I say that only as a tourist. I don’t know what it is like to be Cuban, or to live on an island nation governed by a unique set of principles. There seems to be a purposeful divide between the local daily…

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