Book Review: Death of a Good Samaritan, an Adam Bascom Georgian Mystery by William Savage (@penandpension) #RBRT #Georgian mystery #historical fiction

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William Savage is the author of two Georgian mystery series, one featuring Ashmole Fox, a colorful book seller, and the other Adam Bascom, a physician. I will confess that despite my medical background, I have been drawn more to Ashmole Fox, but this latest in the Adam Bascom series has changed my mind.

This book is located in Norfolk market town of Aylsham in 1794 and as well as Millgate and the Bure Navigation – the upper reaches of the river Bure, which extended from from Horstead to Aylsham and which included locks. The author has included a map, which greatly helped in my understanding of the area. Agricultural produce and bricks were among the main cargoes on the new navigation, carried by wherries, which to readers on this side of the pond, is a long, light, shallow-draft rowboat used for transporting goods and passengers.

Now to the story: Dr. Adam Bascom wants nothing more than to be fully engaged in his medical practice, but he is wildly distracted –first by his love for Lady Alice Fouchard and then by the murder of a kindly surgeon on the outskirts of Aylsham. The death is ruled an accidental death by the local coroner, who has no medical background nor any evidence to support his conclusion. Bascom, who has an established record of solving cases of mysterious deaths, is drawn to discover what happened to his fellow physician but finds no more than tidbits of information and is frustrated by the reluctance of the locals to talk to some of a high social status.

As a reader, I was getting very frustrated myself until the good doctor meets the surgeon’s former housekeeper, Rose Thoday. Ms.Thoday is not your usual housekeeper, being something of a wise woman (skilled in the use of herbs and plants in healing) and having learned a great deal of medicine from her former employer. She wants to be an equal partner in the investigation, posing a conundrum to Bascom – he needs her information and help but how can he collaborate on equal terms with a mere woman? What will upper-class society — and Lady Alice — think of him if he does?

What Rose and Bascom eventually find, with many stops and starts, is a conspiracy of clever, desperate and ruthless men, deeply involved in smuggling and murder. All face the gallows if they are brought to justice, and one will not hesitate to kill again in order to avoid discovery.

As usual, the author does an incredible job bringing the reader into the Georgian Age. Competition from railroads and a disastrous flood that caused major damage to the locks on the river early in the 20th century led to the end of the Bure Navigation, which has not been restored. Thus the author has done a yeoman’s job helping the reader see this historical navigation as it was in its heyday.

The detail is outstanding and the characters, many introduced in previous books, are compelling. Lady Alice is intelligent and gracious and knows well and accepts Bascoms foibles. His closest friend, the apothecary Peter Lassimer, does not figure as largely, but offers humor to counter the doctor’s gloominess. Rose Thoday is a very forward woman, whose fearlessness I enjoyed.

The plot was tortuous and I was constantly rearranging my suspects. I’ve learned from the previous books in both series that the pace of life in the 1700s was slow compared to today, and thus the mysteries in these books develop at the same deliberate pace. It makes the reading of the book leisurely, which contributes to the absorption of the details.

I liked this book the best of the Adam Bascom series and I highly recommend it to mystery readers and especially lovers of historical mysteries.

About the author:

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and took his degree at Cambridge. After a working life largely spent teaching and coaching managers and leaders in Britain, Europe and the USA, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property and started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels and another of his loves was history, so it seemed natural to put the two together and try his hand at producing an historical mystery. To date, he has focused on two series of murder-mystery books, both set in Norfolk between 1760 and around 1800 — a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with France and Napoleon.

Norfolk is not only an inherently interesting county, it happens to be where the author lives, which makes the necessary research far easier. The Georgian period seemed natural choice for him as well, since he lives in a small Georgian town, close by several other towns that still bear the imprint of the eighteenth century on many of their streets and grander buildings. It also had the attraction of being a period he had never studied intensively, and so far he has not regretted his choice. The period has far exceeded his expectations in richness of incidents, rapidity of change and plentiful opportunities for anyone with a macabre interest in writing about crimes of every kind. He cannot see himself running out of plot material any time soon!

You can find Death of a Good Samaritan on Amazon:

William Savage’s blog is Pen and Pension: http://penandpension.com  I highly recommend his blog for his fascinating posts on all aspects of life in Georgian England.

You can also find him

On Twitter: @penandpension

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009908836774

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Childbirth in the Plymouth Colony

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In writing about the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 as a four-year-old, I knew I would have to research childbirth. The Separatist women were awesomely fertile – for example, Priscilla Mullins Alden had thirteen children. I shudder at that thought, but the descendants of those children number in the millions.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a book – The Midwives Book or The Whole Art of Midwifery Discovered. The author is Jane Sharp, an actual midwife in the seventeenth century. We don’t know who she was, but she was among a group of women occupying an extraordinary position in that time. At some point in the future, I will write more about midwives.

The book by Jane Sharp was edited by Elaine Hobby, and I was awed by Sharp’s knowledge of anatomy and obstetrics. Even my husband, the OB-GYN, was impressed.

The midwife for the women of Plymouth Colony was Bridget Fuller, wife of their physick, Samuel Fuller. Based on the number of successful births and healthy women in the colony, I would say she was extraordinarily skilled, birthing being one of the most deadly things for women of that time.

Circling back to my next book, The Last Pilgrim, here is an excerpt from the chapter in which Mary gives birth to her first child.

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By the middle of September, I had grown large with child, making some tasks difficult, but Thomas would oft help me. My back hurt and my ankles swelled, but I was happy – until the ache in my back turned to pains in my belly, which grew stronger and more rhythmic.

My time had come, and despite having been present for the birth of Alice Bradford’s three children, I knew not what it would feel like. Certainly not this? As the pains grew stronger, I walked to relieve the building pressure and panted with each contraction. Thomas had sailed to Rocky Nook early in the morning to ask Mistress Bradford to come and had then gone on to Mistress Fuller’s house, not far away. All three returned mid-afternoon, along with Mercy Bradford, who looked as I must have when her mother first gave birth – scared and anxious.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Warren stayed with me. Since the death of her husband, she oversaw his estate plus a household of five daughters and two sons. She was indeed a formidable woman.

With this group of women, I now had my own gossip, but I missed Priscilla Mullins. She lived in Duxborough with her seven children and was carrying her eighth, so her life was now too full.

The pain was terrible and I felt like I was being cleaved in two. Mistress Bradford made a meal for Thomas since he had not eaten, but, he just grabbed cheese and bread and left the house. Mercy milked our goat and her mother gave me warm goat’s milk to drink and held my arm as I walked around the garden between the pains. Midwife Fuller had brought her stool and had me sit in it so she could examine me from beneath. She clucked each time, but said the birth was well progressing. She had me drink broth, wine with cinnamon, and some water with mugwort and feverfew during that day, to keep up my strength. By that evening, I removed all of my clothes and wore only my linen smock. I had been laboring for some twelve hours and was drenched in sweat, crying out as the pains grew closer together.

I was so focused on the pain that I knew not whether Thomas was even nearby. My groans and moans would certainly have driven him elsewhere for his evening meal and longer.

“Will this never end?” I gasped out when one pain had subsided.

“Let me check you again, dear,” answered Mistress Fuller. She motioned for me to sit in her chair, and lowered herself to look beneath. “You are nearly there. Not much longer and all will be well.”

Just then, I felt a great need to push down, and Mistress Fuller said, “Push again! I can see the head.” She massaged me below with an oil containing what smelled like chamomile, rose and lavender, saying, “This will ease the baby’s passage and prevent any tearing of the flesh.”

Tearing of the flesh? At that point I was far from caring. I gasped and pushed again…and again. After a final scream, I felt a great release and there in Mistress Fuller’s hands was a red, crying mite. I fell back, caught by Mistress Warren.

“You have a fine boy, Mistress Cushman,” my midwife announced. “I need to tie off his birth string, then you can hold him.” This she did and then, taking the clean linen from Mercy Bradford, wrapped him well and gently placed him, still bawling, in my arms. “You need now to deliver the after-burden, Mistress. Here drink this.”

Mistress Fuller told me later that she had had Mercy boil the juice of mugwart, tansy and featherfew down to a syrup. She had added a bit of sugar to make it more palatable, but it still had an unpleasant taste. Soon after drinking it, the pain of contraction occurred again – I thought not to feel that anymore! – and the after-burden was delivered into a bowl.

I was wrapped below in a napkin and helped into a clean smock before I gratefully went to my bed, where I lay, cradling my newborn until he finally slept. The members of my gossip gave me many instructions about taking him to the breast, although I was so tired myself, I heard them as through a fog. Before I slept, Mistress Fuller gave me something to quicken the discharge of my milk.

When Thomas returned and learned all was well, he came to my side and kissed me, then stood back, wordless, in awe of his son, Thomas.

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*****

I hope you enjoyed this snippet and will want to read the entire book! It won’t be too long, since it is written and I am in the first major edit.

Book Review: Arthur: Shadow of a God by Richard Denham (@britanniaseries) #RBRT #Historical research #King Arthur

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I have read all of Richard Denham’s Britannia Series and enjoyed them immensely – they are fascinating historical fiction with attention to true detail. Arthur: Shadow of a God is quite different. Here we have an in-depth analysis of the possible reality of a British king called Arthur and the conclusion that he was not a real man at all but a god, based on Celtic tales and Druidic traditions.

A historical fiction novel this is not! What it is: a compilation of research done by the author in an attempt to define who Arthur really is, based on research of ancient texts and stories. Nevertheless, this is not a dry book. Its contents are fascinating!

Like most people, I have been drawn to stories of Arthur since childhood, and I always believed he was real. The author digs for his reality in the history of Britain before, during and after the Roman occupation based on previous scholarly consensus that Arthur was a Romano-British warlord. That worked for me until it became obvious from this book that much of the research on which this idea was based is guesswork – guesswork compounded by a lack of archeological information and fact-based sources from what would have been his time. The magical swords, wizards, dragons and faeries interweaving Arthur’s story added to my doubt. Do you see Arthur as a knight in shining armor? Such men, mounted on destriers and armed with swords and lances are the stuff of medieval times!

What was evident to the author, based on many sources and his own scholarship, is that Arthur is a god in the appearance of a king, drawn from Celtic folklore and Druidic tales handed down orally from generation to generation. Legend and myth, human imagination and perhaps a longing for such a hero combined to produce Arthur.

If you are as fascinated by King Arthur as I have always been, then you need to read this book. It is rich in detail and peels away, like the layers of an onion, all of the mystery surrounding him to get to the truth. It is your choice to believe or not!

 About the author (from Amazon)

Richard Denham was born in the military town of Aldershot, the son of a sergeant in the British Army. He is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period.

Ever since studying the Romans at school, he has taken a keen interest in them, specifically Romans in Britain. As a boy growing up with swords, knights, tanks and all things military he also developed an interest in the legends of King Arthur. He then discovered that Roman Britain was much more interesting. The inspiration for the Britannia series was the cold, impassive footnote Richard would constantly come across “Romans leave Britain”. This would have been, for those who lived it, an apocalyptic time never known before; with the Romans having lived, fought, laughed, married and raised children on our island, “leaving” could never be as simple as that.

Richard is the co-author of the popular ‘Britannia’ series with M. J. Trow. These books follow a group of soldiers and their descendants through the madness of a chain of events which will eventually lead to the fall of Roman Britain and the descent into the Dark Ages.

His exhaustive research of this period eventually led him to Arthur.

You can find the author on

Twitter: @britanniaseries

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8049810.Richard_Denham/blog

And his book, Arthur Shadow of a God on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Shadow-God-Richard-Denham/dp/1094689092/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Richard+Denham&qid=1561472457&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Book Review: Jane the Quene by Janet Wertman (@Janetwertman) #RBRT # historical fiction #Tudor-Seymour saga

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Jane Seymour is one of the Tudor characters about whom I have read little, other than incidentally in stories of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. The Tudor period has been so over-written, I approached this book with some hesitancy, thinking it would be another rehash of everything I’ve read.  I was pleasantly surprised – Jane Seymour comes across as a unique and layered individual, in contrast to the colorless, vapid, and upright woman described in so many other books.

In the England of 1535, Jane Seymour is 27 years old, edging to spinsterhood. She wants more than anything a marriage that will give her a future and a real place in society, but she is a shy and unspoiled woman who manages everything but is only part of the background. When the court of Henry VIII visits Wolf Hall, her family’s manor, she directs the event with such poise and efficiency that she finally gets noticed, and by Henry VIII himself.

Henry’s wife, Anne Boleyn, has become something of a curse to him: he changed England’s religion to divorce his first wife, Queen Katherine, to marry her (both unpopular moves with the English people) and Anne has given him only a girl child, followed by several miscarriages. He is desperate for a son and sees Jane’s honesty and innocence as a means to his redemption as well as a male heir.

Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious man who has, as the King’s clerk, managed to satisfy his every desire, also sees redemption for Henry in Jane and engineers the plot to have her become queen.

The author has woven a story in which we can see Jane as she was before the King’s visit and watch her develop into a confident queen. Her thoughts, fears and experiences through the plot to remove Anne and Anne’s her subsequent beheading create a three dimensional person trying to manage the ardor of the King and her new and unprepared- for position at court. Her ambition, nascent at first, grows as she marries Henry and becomes Quene Jane, and I enjoyed the contrast the author made between the sweet story of her early life and encounters with the King and her developing ambition, which seemed to get the better of her as time went on.

As seems normal for the treachery and intrigue of the Tudor court, relatives tend to direct he loves of the women, and in this respect Jane is not different – her brothers regulated her life from the beginning and I was quite thrilled when she finally stood up to them, although she did take their advice to manipulate the king through his affection for her.

There are many unanswered questions about Jane – what were her feelings about the haste with which Anne Boleyn was removed and executed, her unduly swift marriage to the King, her insertion into the Tudor Court and the gossip associated with it. The author does a good job getting into Jane’s thoughts: guilt, joy, and growing strength and ambition. One can only wonder what would have happened if she had not died following childbirth. Would the King have tired of her and moved on?

I will freely admit I did not like the person Jane became as she moved fully into the role of queen. She lost the humility and sweetness that I had come to love about her. But I believe this is probably what would have happened, and the author has the pulse of this character. The historical detail is wonderful and the dialogue smooth, which made this an easy and fun read.

If you like historical fiction and are a fan of the Tudors, this is a good book for you! An I am more than ready for the next book in the author’s trilogy on the Seymours – The Path to Somerset

About the author (from her blog site):

Janet Wertman grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West. Her grandfather was an antiquarian book dealer who taught her that there would always be a market for quirky, interesting books. He was the one who persuaded Janet’s parents to send her to the French school and then Barnard College.  She spent fifteen years as a corporate lawyer in New York, doing a little writing on the side (The Executive Compensation Answer Book), but when her first and second children were born, she decided to change her lifestyle.  She and her husband transformed their lives in 1997, moving to Los Angeles and switching careers. Janet became a grant writer and took up writing fiction.

Janet has always harbored a passion for the Tudor Kings and Queens since her parents let her stay up late to watch the televised Masterpiece Theatre series (both The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R) and is thrilled to have released the first two books in The Seymour Saga trilogy: Jane the Quene, which has been nominated for several book awards, and The Path to Somerset, which chronicles Edward Seymour’s rise after Jane’s death to become Lord Protector of England and Duke of Somerset. They will be joined in 2020 by The Boy King, which will cover the reign of Jane’s son, Edward VI.

You can find Janet Wertman

On Twitter @JanetWertman

On facebook: https://janetwertman.com/

And on her site: https://janetwertman.com/

Jane The Quene is available on Amazon:

Book Review: Mahoney by Andrew Joyce (@andrewjoyce76) #RBRT #historical fiction #family saga

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I am a big fan of Andrew Joyce’s books, and I think this may be the best one yet. Perhaps it’s because the book is so entertaining, perhaps it’s because I’m part Irish through the migration during an Gorta Mór (the Irish potato famine or great hunger), or perhaps because I am a sucker for history and family sagas – but probably all three.

Mahoney is the story of the family by that name and was written as a trilogy tied together by common ancestry. The reader is first introduced to Devin, who is the last of the Mahoneys, famine and sickness having taken everyone else in his family. He lies on the dirt floor of the single room in his small, dark home in Ireland, waiting to die. When given the opportunity to take a ship to America, which looms large in his mind as a place where he can grow rich, he takes it.

The author has done some incredible research for his book, as he has for all the previous ones. Devin’s voyage to Quebec in the crowded and disease-ridden hold of a ship is richly drawn in its sordid and dangerous details. The story of how Devin makes his way and his living in cities prejudiced against the Irish is intense and his letters as a soldier in the Civil War are heart-breaking.

The next Mahoney we meet is Dillon, son of Devin. His life is a tapestry of adventures, from working on the transcontinental railroad, to becoming a cowboy on a vast cattle ranch, to earning a reputation as a gunslinger in the Wild West, to earning a fortune as an oil wildcatter in California.

Finally there is David, the dissipated and spoiled son of Devin. The disappointment I initially felt with this character is gradually lifted with his foray into the South during the time of the Depression and the Klu Kux Klan.

All in all, an adventurous ride I could not put down. The writer’s strengths are in his ability to paint the history in succinct brush strokes, in the development of his characters, and most of all, in the dialogue. The story of Devin is perhaps the strongest of the three, as this characters has the most to overcome and does it mainly on his own. I wanted to stay with his story, but events of the time interfered. Dillon and David have somewhat miraculous help at critical times (who’s not to say they wouldn’t?) to move their story forward.

Nevertheless, Andrew Joyce gives us a rich and colorful picture of America, with all its faults, from the Irish migration to the Deep South of the 1930s, covering a lot of history with an engrossing story.

I highly recommend Mahoney if you want a great read.

About the author (from Amazon):

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

You can find Andrew Joyce

On twitter: @andrewjoyce76

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewjoyce76/

And at his site: https://andrewjoyce76.com/

Mahoney is available on Amazon:

The Garfield Chronicles

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Hello to everyone! It’s been a while since I, Garfield the magnificent, have typed a post, but my two-legged has been hogging the computer, working away on a book. She says she needs to finish editing it ASAP, so I snuck up here to use it while she’s away for the weekend…leaving me behind!

I don’t mind being left alone so much now since she found a nice lady to come in a give me pets and feed me. I’m warming up to her. She also brushes me which I LOVE.

So what have I been up to, you might ask, during all this time.

Well, I trapped my first mouse. It came in from the garage in a box my two-legged brought inside. It was much nicer to play with than the phony, furry ones she keeps giving me and it didn’t look anything like my knitted mouse, which I love to death.  She took that real one away from me, though, because she was afraid I might eat it…or so she said.

I also discovered a fun game to play. I go into one of the bedrooms upstairs and push the door shut. Then I dig at the door until she comes and lets me out. I did this several times until she realized I was doing it deliberately and braced the door open. Phooey!

There are lots of games I like. My two legged will play ‘hide her hand’  on the stairs with me – she pops it out and I jump! I also love to knead the blue blanket on her bed. I can do it for a long while and it makes me purr. 

Right now I am having fun leaving fur on her bed – she has to brush it up every few days, complaining she could stuff a pillow with it. Can I help it if I am fluffy and handsome?

It’s also fun to give her a fright. When she goes outside to swim, I charge the door. I have no idea what I would do if I actually got out the door, but she thinks I would run away and get lost. What’s outside that door?

My two-legged and someone she calls Hubs seem to find me very funny, and I do my best to keep them laughing – running around the house, which is good exercise, rolling on the floor, running up and downstairs, and carrying my knitted mouse into various corners of the house. I am not sure what they find so funny, since this is just what I do. It’s my job!

Hopefully I’ll have more to tell you next time, but in the meantime, she still hasn’t been able to get me into that box. She says I need to see somone called a vet.

This is what I think of THAT idea!

The 75th Anniversary of D-Day

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Today we take note of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II.  This operation turned the tide of the war, leading to the eventual collapse of the Third Reich and the cessation of the evil, death and destruction it had wreaked on Europe.

The amphibious landings were preceded by aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault, involving members of the 101st and 82nd Airborne. Many of you know that my son is currently serves proudly with the 82nd Airborne and had the honor of flying over Normandy and serving as a parachute Jump Master during last year’s celebrations, one the highlights of his service. They flew over the village of Ste Mere Eglise.

On D-Day in June of 1944, among the 24,000 US, Canadian and British airborne troops sent to precede the amphibious landings, the 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assigned to capture of Ste Mere Eglise. Early on the morning of June 6 (12:20-1:40 AM), pathfinders were dropped behind the enemy lines in order to prepare the drop zones. At 1:40 AM, the men of the 82nd Airborne were dropped off over the Merderet River and marsh.

The poor weather conditions – low clouds and ground fog over the drop zones – altered the visibility of the marker flares installed by the pathfinders. Heavy German anti-aircraft fire added to the situation. As a result, the drops of both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were scattered over an area four times larger than the scheduled one. These men carried heavy packs, but no radios to communicate with each other. In addition, the aircraft carrying the paratroopers found themselves under severe anti-aircraft enemy fire as soon as they approached the coasts.

The 505th was the only Regiment to be dropped almost accurately to the northwest of Ste Mere Eglise, while many other paratroopers from the 101st touched ground far west from their planned drop zone.

At 1:00am, the constant enemy shelling triggered a fire in one of the houses situated by the town’s church, raising the alarm among the inhabitants and the Germans positioned in the village. The fire spread in the town and lit up the sky, allowing  the Germans to locate the paratroopers as they were coming down.

Numbers of paratroopers were riddled with bullets before reaching the ground and others landed on trees or utility poles and were killed before they could even undo their parachutes. Still others fell into the fire.

The town was eventually wrested from the Germans by paratroopers under the command of a Lieutenant-Colonel Krause around 4:30 AM.

Sainte Mere Eglise became known to the world after the film The Longest Day because of the paratrooper John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Steele had landed on the church’s steeple and pretended to be dead to avoid being shot by the Germans. He stayed put, hanging in the air, for two long hours and watched helplessly as the Germans shot his comrades around him. The Germans eventually noticed him and took him prisoner, but he managed to escape and rejoin his division when it entered the village at 4.30am.

The town has hung a dummy paratrooper and his parachute on the steeple of the church as a monument to the men who liberated them, along with two commemorative stained glass windows.

The Allies landed more than 160,000 troops on the Normandy beaches, of which 73,000 were American and  83,115 British and Canadian forces, landing a total of two million men between June 6 and August 21. This was the largest amphibious assault in history, and the casualties were very high, especially on June 6. The men on the beach came under  heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha beach, with its high cliffs. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.

The Normandy American Cemetery is the resting place for 9,387 Americans, most of whom died during the landing operations and in the establishment of the beachhead. The names of 1,557 soldiers are inscribed on tablets in the cemetery’s Garden of the Missing. The remains of approximately 14,000 others originally buried in this region were returned home at the request of their next of kin.  A father and his son are buried here, side by side, and in 33 instances two brothers rest side by side.  The headstones are of white Italian marble — a Star of David for those of Jewish faith and a Latin Cross for all others.  It is a place of beauty, tranquility and awe.

Today, I give thanks to all the men and women who gave a full measure of devotion in World War II to preserve our freedoms. The ‘greatest generation’ who fought this war is leaving us, and it is now our duty never to forget.

Checking in with my followers

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It has been a while since I posted, mainly because I am up to my eyeballs in reworking the first draft of my book, The Last Pilgrim. The rewrite of a historical novel has proved different and rather difficult and quite a learning experience.

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 First, I am looking up the etymology of many of the words I have used. Were they in common use in the 17th century? Scramble is a good example:

From: https://www.etymonline.com/ – an invaluable source

“1580s (intransitive), perhaps a nasalized variant of scrabble (v.), in its sense of “to struggle, to scrape quickly.” Transitive sense “to stir or toss together randomly” is from 1822. Broadcasting sense “to make unintelligible” is attested from 1927. Related: Scrambled; scrambling. Scrambled eggs first recorded 1843.”

So I was okay using this word but not with the meaning I intended for that time.

Second, checking and rechecking dates.

I just discovered I had Isaac Allerton, Mary’s father, marrying two years later than I thought. I had to do some rearrangement within several chapters.

I have gotten some birth/death dates wrong as well.

Third, finding where I slipped into passive voice.  A biggie!

 Fourth, changing scenes from indirect to direct to make the telling of the history more interesting and interjecting emotion. The Pilgrims were not unemotional automatons!

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And so it goes. I’m trying to get back to book reviews I owe everyone, but it’s hard because my head is in the 16th century and there I use no contractions and the language is somewhat stiff.

Hubs and I are returning to Plymouth in August to celebrate our anniversary, but actually for me to do more research and get further impressions.

I discovered why the original grave marker for Thomas Cushman, Mary’s husband, is no longer on Burial Hill. They took the marker away – such a shame – and replaced it with the huge monument to the Cushmans, where Mary receives a small citation. Since she was buried next to her husband, her bones must lie under that monument, too.

Please forgive my absence in reading your posts – I try to get to some each day. Whatever will I do when I am finished with this? I hope I have not lost all my blogging buddies along the way…

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Pollen Tornadoes

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As predicted, all of our trees leafed this past weekend, releasing clouds of pollen. Our driveway is mustard colored, our cars are coated, and yesterday driving along the interstate, the air was yellow and you could see billows of the yellow stuff when trucks drove through it.

Rather than taking such ugly pictures, I chose to take photos of some of our blooms. Tulips do not grow well in our soil, but I found one, sad lone tulip that braved the conditions to sprout in my garden.

The azaleas are out and we have one kind that has large pale lilac-colored blossoms with the most amazing delicate spots!

And then there is our Japanese cherry tree. Each year it sports delicate clusters of pink flowers, along with a slightly sour smell. This year is no exception.

The temperatures here have gotten to the 70s, the pool hit 65 on Sunday – so naturally I went in – and now it’s a balmy 70 so I can swim!

What’s So Great About Vampires: War of Nytefall: Rivalry – A New Novel from Charles Yallowitz:

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My fellow blogger, Charles Yallowitz, has come up with another of his great (and occasionally funny) lists, this time about vampires – to which he is clearly addicted! – to promo his new book. Read on, my friends:

A big thanks to Noelle for helping to promote my newest book, War of Nytefall: Rivalry. This is my third book that revolves around the Vampire Civil War of Windemere, which is the same magical world that was home to Legends of Windemere. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of obvious considering the title.  Now, I’ve been asked a few times, usually on days ending in ‘Y’, about why I decided to go for vampires.  They’ve been done a lot over the decades.  Well, my first response is because they were the next project in my mental queue and I’ve been dying to write stories with the Dawn Fangs as the focal points.  My second response comes after some thought because vampires seem to always have a toehold on popularity.  Even when they’ve been overdone, you still see people swarming to new versions.  So, what is it about these monsters that has kept them around for so long?

  1. They’re immortal. Seriously, they live forever, which is kind of an obsession with mankind.  Most of us are scared of death to some extent, so there we could look at these immortal monsters as a fictional vehicle to avoid this fear.  It could also go the other way where we see how lonely and sad vampires are, so we see that mortality might have some advantages.

  2. Due to vampires looking human, audiences can connect to them. People tend to relate to other people or humanized things in fiction. A movie that has a dog as a main character may give them a voice the audience can hear or show a wide range of emotions through physical gestures. This creates a bridge, which vampires always have because they usually look perfectly human.  Them being pale, having fangs, having powers, or acting strange doesn’t take away from their human look. Only thing that does that is the classic widow’s peak haircut.

  3. Vampires can be reimagined to various settings. While werewolves require a lunar cycle, vampires don’t have that level of limitation. Even that isn’t consistent since it was originally being weakened by the sun and other versions are fine during the day.  You can put vampires in fantasy, science fiction, drama, horror, westerns, and any other genre with some tweaks to the formula.  Yes, you will have people complaining that it isn’t ‘their vampires’.  Yet, there’s a long history of alterations that supports doing just about anything with them.

  4. Characters can have sex with vampires and not be considered a necrophiliac. I don’t know if this is a reason for them still being popular.  It’s just something that I can’t wrap my head around when I think about it.

  5. The power! The sheer, brutal, savage power!  Audiences just love vampires for their strength and abilities.  Some want to possess it because the idea of turning into a bat or bending metal bars is fun.  Others love to see weak mortals overcome something so terrifyingly strong.  You can even have hierarchies of power within vampire societies, so you can get an underdog from their own ranks.  It also demonstrates that a weaker being can become stronger over time, which can be fairly inspiring.

  6. Vampires are as versatile as mortals when it comes to character roles. They can be the monster hunting down the heroes or the cunning villain planning world domination.  They can be the noble hero who is fighting against his darker nature or the brutal anti-hero that seeks his own type of justice.  Romantic partners, jealous stalkers, loyal allies, devious traitors, and the list keeps on going.  This ties back into them looking and acting human.  It means they can hold the same roles as humans as long as they are established within a world that allows for their existence.

  7. Because they’re fun and, most times, are treated with respect. It isn’t easy reinventing the wheel that is vampire stories.  Every creator has to put their own twist on the mythos in order to avoid being called a copycat.  This can be the vampires themselves, the world they’re in, or the society they’ve made.  The previously mentioned versatility of vampires makes this both easy and difficult.  You can really do anything with them, but you also need to work hard to make it fit.  Don’t just say something is a vampire because it has fangs and that’s it.  You need to have the creatures earn the title right from the beginning, which requires respect.  Doing this successfully for any level of audience helps the popularity of vampires continue.

  8. Seriously, that necrophilia thing is creepy.

Hope you enjoyed my off the cuff list.  The topic was actually a lot harder than I imagined it would be.  Check out my own take on vampires in War of Nytefall: Rivalry.  Thanks for reading and see you in the comments.

About the Author:

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Truthfully, his tales of adventure are much more interesting than his real life, so skip the bio and dive into the action

You can find Charles at:

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Good luck, Charles, with the new book! Bring on the reviews, folks!