• Books,  Books Reviews

    Cherokee America

    Published in 2019 WRITTEN BY MARGARET VERBLEREVIEW BY KATIE STINE For some, the idea that the United States government enveloped sovereign nations sounds strange. But this novel reminds the reader that sovereign entities existed amongst the American states. Set in 1875, before Oklahoma was created, the Cherokee Nation was home to the titular character. Check, the main character, is the center of a powerful family in the Cherokee Nation. Two of her five sons are nearly grown, and her husband is on his deathbed. The dance of full-blood, mixed-blood (the “Cherokee-ness” of a person is not the tint of the skin, but the ways in which one chooses to live), white, and…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    A Sinner Without A Saint (The Penningtons)

    Published in 2018 WRITTEN BY BLISS BENNET REVIEW BY KATIE STINE In this stand-alone Regency romance novel, fourth in the Pennington Series, the world of the art collector is explored. The sparkling protagonist, Lord Dulcie, is a Regency anti-hero: manipulative and flippant, but sartorially forward. His one goal, since he will not be siring any heirs, is to become London’s next artistic tastemaker, collecting the best paintings Europe can offer. A schoolboy crush, Pennington, has other ideas: a public collection of paintings for the betterment of all. But is there more to Art than just the Masters? The author does an excellent job of describing art during a period of change, as Romanticism…

  • 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…

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    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…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Writing

    Best Books of 2016 Compilation

    Maybe 2016 was an all-out Dumpster Fire for you. Maybe it wasn’t. Either way, you probably missed some great books as the months sped by. I have compiled a resource list to help you choose your next book (a best book) before 2017 takes over and you have to keep up with those. I have broken them into some categories to make it easier to peruse. Perhaps you like Award winners. Committees form, discuss, celebrate a winner. Man Booker Award winners are usually great books for me because they are often quirky. However, they do not allow Americans to enter, so if you want an American experience, go instead with…

  • Lifestyle,  Writing

    Brain Input

    There are so many methods to entertain ourselves these days, so much so that I wonder how over-stimulated I actually am. When I begin a new story that I am unsure of how it will unfold, I try to surround myself with topics that relate to the experience I’m trying to portray, or the questions I am hoping to ask. But with so much media, it isn’t just books that I use as brain input. One of the ways I have taken to expanding my world is listening to podcasts. Since I’ve been home long enough to restart my long walks, I’ve been catching up on my extensive list. Perhaps…

  • Books,  Books Reviews,  Inspiration,  Lifestyle,  poetry,  Writing

    Problem

    I hear the first step is to admit you have a problem. Therefore: I have a problem. See, it wasn’t my fault. I had to go to Charleston yesterday–not my fault–and we had a bunch of time to kill, so I said, all casual-like, “How about we go to this Used Bookstore?” And my friends were all like, “Cool.” BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T KNOW. We went to a coffee shop first, which was good. Who wants to be without caffeine in a bookstore? No one worth knowing, that’s who. So we went to Blue Bicycle Books–new and used. I peruse the shelves, putting down copy after copy of books I had…

  • Books,  Lifestyle,  Writing

    Things Are Out of Hand: To Goal or Not to Goal

    Most of what we read in the news and blogosphere in January is goal-related.  New Year’s Resolutions, the backlash of resolutions, reasons why we are stupid to either make them in the first place, or to deride the goal-setting experience. I am a chronic goal-setter.  I like goals, because I like that smug satisfaction I get when I cross the item off my list.  For instance, I submitted a short story today. I think it is a long-shot, but it pays, and I set a goal to submit this story three times by the end of March.  I make an untidy hashmark on my calendar, as if I were a…

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