Tea, Rain, Book

I enjoy romances, cozy mysteries, police procedurals, and non-fiction.

 

You can also find me on the following sites:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/840708-melissa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tea_rain_book

 

 

 

 

Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan

The Siege of Yorktown 1781. Colonel Hamilton has his army in place and is just obliterating the small town while awaiting for reinforcements. Two of the stories arise from the battlefield; the third is tied to the descendant of someone at Yorktown. They share their stories in letters and interviews with Eliza Hamilton as she writes her husband's biography after his death (roughly in the late 1810s and early 1820s).

 

Promised Land by Rose Lerner - 4 stars

Rachel faked her death to run away from her marriage and towards Washington's army. She meets up with her husband (one of Washington's spies) at Yorktown. I love a good "can this marriage be saved?" trope in historical romance and this one delivered. Both MCs are Jewish and the story really shined with the choice to have the MCs be of a religious minority; certain scenes that depicted how the Jews dealt with Jewish law and customs while also serving in the military were used to deepen their relationship. I thought the one sex scene was shoe-horned in and didn't add to the story, but by the time it happened I was already rooting for Rachel and Nathanial's HEA. This was my first time reading Lerner, but it won't be my last.

 

The Pursuit of.....(Worth Saga) by Courtney Milan - 4 stars

This novella falls third (or maybe #2.5) in the Worth Saga series, but you don't have to read the first two books to understand what is going on in this story. John Hunter is an ex-slave (ran away from his master, then returned to rescue his sister and mother) living in Rhode Island when the call for black men to enlist in Washington's army comes with an entitlement to freedom papers after the war. John's sister is married to enslaved man, so to keep her man at home while also earning his brother's freedom papers, John enlists in his stead. At Yorktown, he meets British Lt Henry Latham (see post from last week). John helps Henry escape from the British army; in return, Henry accompanies John on his way back to Rhode Island and his family. I love road trips, although this one is longer due to being on foot. There is stinky cheese, the sexual politics and morality of slavery, plus actual courting after John is reunited with his family and Henry goes back to Britain. I loved John and Henry, and seeing them as older men (thirty or so years after the HEA) was a real treat. The Milan magic is in full force here.

 

That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole - 4 stars

This novella ties into another of Cole's stand alone novellas, Be Not Afraid (from the anthology For Love and Liberty). In this novella, Andromeda Stiel (granddaughter of Elijah and Kate Sutton from Be Not Afraid) visits The Grange in her grandfather's place to give his story of serving under Hamilton (both in New York and Yorktown) to Eliza. It is at The Grange that Andromeda meets Mercy Alston, the maid and secretary for Eliza. I finally get a Boston marriage-style HEA! This is the shortest of the stories, as there is no military action or duties to add to the story. It also has a mostly fade to black sex scene.

 

I gave a half star more because of the authors' notes found in the back of the book. The authors tell the readers where they got their inspiration (each acknowledged Lin-Manual Miranda and his show) and historical research, plus what drove them to put the project together in the first place.

Love is Love by Various Authors

Love is Love - Phil Jimenez, Various

This anthology was created to raise money for Equality Orlando and the organization's support of victims' families and the survivors of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in June 2016. I think that because the anthology was the comic book industry's way of helping and coping with the incident, I was a bit more giving in the ratings area.

 

IDW publishing, with support from DC Entertainment, gave free rein to their artists and writers, so there are pages with familiar characters on some pages. Most of the artwork is amazing, and conveys the deep emotional impact as well as the broad spectrum of emotions this incident wrung out of people. My favorites, even after a week of thinking and giving the work another look, was the Wonder Woman page, the Muslim man meeting a gay couple on the street and hugging them after the incident made the news (from G. Willow Wilson of course!), the Supergirl page, and the page with older LGBTQIAA members giving solace to the young members of the community (those older community members who lived through the gay rights movement and the HIV/AIDS crisis).

 

With that being said, it was an okay effort in terms of quality of writing and introspection. I had a few problems with some of the work showcased, not for what it tried to convey but it's placement in this anthology in the first place.

 

Issues:

1. For an incident that affected a big part of the Latinx part of the LGBTQIAA community, this anthology had a lot of white cishets working out their disbelief and grief over what happened, and many didn't know anyone in the area, let alone was affected by the incident. There wasn't very much Latinx voices in this anthology. Too much "how will I explain this to my kids" hand wringing as well - uh, the same thing you tell them about Las Vegas and Newtown - and just try to answer their questions as honestly as you can. Sometimes that honesty comes in "I don't know why".

 

2. Ace/Aros, pansexuals, and bisexuals got the short end of the stick here. Aces/Aros were mentioned once and used as kind of a punch line so that the writer could shake his/her finger at judgmental people. It distort the message and made it sound hypocritical. Bisexuals got Wonder Woman and that is it (and she doesn't even self-identify as one in the page). Pansexuals didn't get mentioned once. The predominance was white, gay, somewhat affluent in terms of character type.

 

3. Too much Batman. Seriously, the Gotham universe is not exactly a well of diversity, and having the rich white guy savior show up every 15 pages was not needed. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy's relationship gets a page, but it was more like "lesbians - aren't they cute" sort of way.

 

4. The beginning of the book was too heavy on the dark and disturbing, especially when artists showed dead bodies lying everywhere. Or the use of multiple cell phones going off and nobody answering. There was a lot artistic renderings of the crime scene that did not add any value to a book that is supposed to celebrating love and life. Not much humor found in the rest of the book - maybe a line here or there, some unintentionally.

 

5. Some of the transgender characters were used to explore others' feelings about transgenderism rather than about the transgender characters' feelings or storyline.

Friday Reads - January 19, 2018

Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan The Lotus Palace - Jeannie Lin The Jade Temptress - Jeannie Lin Gambled Away: A Historical Romance Anthology - Rose Lerner, Molly O'Keefe, Joanna Bourne, Jeannie Lin, Isabel Cooper

*bookish meme created by Nothing But A Good Book

 

As I said in my previous post, this has been a week. As such, I am finding only pockets of time to read. So I am still reading Hamilton's Battalion, but I just started the last story and hope to finish it sometime tomorrow.

 

Then it is off to start the Pingkang Li mystery series by Jeannie Lin, starting with The Lotus Palace and The Jade Temptress. I already read the prequel novella, Capturing the Silken Thief, a long time ago and the last novella is in the anthology Gambled Away, so that will hopefully take me into next weekend's 24 in 48 Read-a-thon.

Tea's TBR Thursday - January 18, 2018

Sweethearts And Jazz (A 1940's Romance Book 2) - Rose Andrews Dialing Dreams: A short story - Jessica Eissfeldt Allegiance: A Dublin Novella - Heather Domin

*bookish meme created by Moonlight Reader

 

This has been a week - and we are still waiting for a certain federal shoe to drop. Anyway, that is why I am late with this bookish meme. Apologies.

 

Books Read from TBR:

1. The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich

2. Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo

3. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

4. Triangle by David von Drehle

5. A Right Honorable Gentleman by Courtney Milan

6. Ms. Marvel Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson et al

 

Books Borrowed/On Hold from Library: Nothing. That will change soon, as there are a few books on my COYER list coming from OverDrive.

 

Books added to the TBR:

1. Sweethearts and Jazz by Rose Andrews - post WWII historical romance set in the world of regional/dinner theater.

 

2. Dialing Dreams by Jessica Eissfeldt - WWII historical romance between a military member and a hotel telephone switchboard operator (my copy's cover looks very different from the one showing).

 

3. Allegiance: A Dublin Novella by Heather Domin - a m/m historical romance set in Ireland in early 1920s between a British MI5 agent and an Irish rebel.

 

All three additions were from the free section of the NOOK store.

Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan

'It's your turn, ' the man said with an unholy degree of cheer. "I remarked on the weather. Etiquette demands that you same something in return."

For a moment, John stared at the fellow in utter confusion. "I'm bloody trying to kill you. This is a battle, not a ball."

He pivoted on one foot, putting his entire back in whirling his weapon. This time he managed to whack the other man's stomach. A blow-not a hard one, he hadn't the space to gather momentum-but enough that the fellow grunted and staggered back a pace.

"Yes," the man said, recovering his balance all too quickly, "true, completely true, we are trying to commit murder upon each other. That doesn't mean that we need to be impolite about it."

Fucking British. Would he call a halt to take tea, too?

 

 

Courtney Milan is back everyone! Meet cute on the battlefield as only she can do.

Bout of Books Cycle 21 Daily Recaps - Sunday and Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Wrap UpI think I did an excellent job in this cycle. I did daily recaps, 6/7 challenges, participated in one Twitter chat, and read 4 books. Looking forward to May and cycle 22.

 

Sunday, January 14th

Read: Love is Love anthology

Reviewed: Nothing

Challenge: I did not do the challenge because I refuse to review on Amazon or any other retailer.

 

Saturday, January 13th

Read: Ms Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal and A Right Honorable Gentleman; started Love is Love anthology

Reviewed: Ms. Marvel and Gentleman

Challenge: IG post

Other: I participated in the Twitter chat.

 

Friday, January 12th

Read: Finished Triangle

Reviewed: Triangle (2.5 stars)

Challenge: IG post

 

Thursday, January 11th

Read: 57% done with Triangle. I should be done with it tomorrow.

Challenge: IG post

 

Wednesday, January 10th

Read: not one page

Challenge: IG post

 

Tuesday, January 9th

Read: very little progress made on Triangle

Reviewed: The Little Book of Hygge and Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

Challenge: IG post

 

Monday, January 8th

Read: Got through all of 10% of Triangle

Reviewed: Nothing

Challenge: IG post

Twitter Chat: For this cycle, there are only two Twitter chats scheduled. Due to time zone differences, I was not available to participate. I plan to do Saturday's chat.

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson et al

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal - G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona

This was a fun read. I like that this book takes us through Kamala's processing her new powers and trying on different costumes - I liked that this wasn't simple for her. I liked Bruno, I just wished he and Kamala had a friendship that didn't include Bruno being secretly in love with her. Nakia was great balance to Kamala, showing how different Muslim physically express their religion. Zoe the concern troll was pitch perfect - I like how everyone saw through her bullshit. I loved Kamala's dad.

 

I will continue with this series, but I am also going to suggest this series to my library, because I think many teens would like reading about Kamala, her friends and family, and her superhero adventures.

A Right Honorable Gentleman by Courtney Milan

A Right Honorable Gentleman - Courtney Milan

What a load of crap. This is new adult nonsense dressed up in Victorian era clothing. The male MC is no hero - is an alphahole of stupid proportions. The female MC is a walking doormat. This story was short (about 7,000 words or 3 chapters) but was so full of clichés that it must have come from her early days of writing, it was so amateurish. Not the quality I expect from Milan.

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle

This was a dud. I guess I had higher expectations for this book than I was aware of because all I am feeling is disappointment. Yeah, the book does explain (not that well enough in my opinion) what happened and how it happened, but I felt that the author was much more interested in writing about the men of Tammany Hall. Basically this book is almost all about every man involved, however loosely, in the strike of 1909 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. Seriously, I felt that every man in Lower East Side of NYC got a full back story and like maybe 3 women did.

 

The writing was a little over the top, especially when the author was describing what each character looked like, including the shape of heads. Also he was pre-occupied with how plain or pretty the women in the book were and how feminine they acted. It was a bit weird and not really added any value to the narrative.

 

Tip of the hat to the author for working on a list of victims who died in the fire. His author note on sources was more entertaining than a lot of the book, the way he detailed how he went about trying to find the names from varying sources and using detective work to whittle down the list.

 

I did give an extra half star for the author adding in details about Francis Perkins early days prior to working with and then for FDR.

 

 

Friday Reads - January 12, 2018

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal - G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona A Right Honorable Gentleman - Courtney Milan Love is Love - Phil Jimenez, Various Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan

I have 40% left in Triangle, so that is the first one to read. There may be less left due to the index, sources, etc. taking up a big part of the page count.

 

Starting tomorrow, I will be reading off my COYER Winter Switch reading list, kicking off with volume one of Ms. Marvel and A Right Honorable Gentleman by Courtney Milan (previously published in RWA's anthology Premiere).

 

I will also begin reading Love is Love edited by Phil Jimenez, a graphic novel anthology that was created to raise money for Pulse Nightclub victims and survivors.

 

To round out the end of BoB cycle 21, I might get to Hamilton's Battalion anthology.

 

Happy first 3 day weekend of 2018!

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well - Meik Wiking

I needed a palate/brain cleaner between disaster books (plus the disaster podcasts I listen to regularly), so I picked this from my NOOK. I expected a lot more than what I got from this book. I think MbD and TA did a better job explaining hygge in their 16 Tasks for the Festive Season challenge. At one point, the terms rustic was used so much I thought a bearded flannel wearing craft cocktail sipping hipster wrote the book.

 

I mean, I get hygge, especially during autumn and winter (hi, I live in England - the country with THE shittiest weather on the planet). I love candles like no one else, I find good lighting helpful in dealing with my migraines and epilepsy, I love a good hearty crock pot meal, and love blankets and books. I did not need the concept explained to me a hundred times over until it reached book length. And I could have done without all the hipster undertones.

Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo

Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 - Stephen Puleo

A quick read that was also a real page turner. Mr. Puleo does his research; there are many facets to this disaster and he takes the reader on a step by step journey, complete with an epilogue that details (as much as one can) what happened to the people involved in the book after the court settlement. There is a lot of social, political, economic, and historical context given to really center the disaster and give it the importance it really should receive.

 

United States Industrial Alcohol (USIA), through its subsidiary Purity, Inc., was in fine form as the early days of WWI turned into quite a profitable time for the companies. USIA turned molasses from the Caribbean islands into industrial alcohol, then sold the alcohol to munitions manufacturers to make things that go boom - that was 80% of their business, the other 20% was grain alcohol that they then sold to distributors or other spirit manufacturers. However, leasing other companies storage tanks were cutting into profits; solution was to build a 50 feet tall, 90 feet wide storage tank (could hold 2.3 million gallons) on the Boston waterfront in North Boston - where most Italian immigrants lived in tenement housing. Italian immigrants were very transitory at the time, and if they did choose to settle for good in the US, they were not keen to get their citizenship papers. No citizenship papers = no votes, so nobody gave a damn about them or the fact that a massive tank to hold molasses until the rail cars could carry the sticky stuff to the processing plant in East Cambridge. The tank was built in a damn hurry in 1915 and starting holding molasses on the first day of 1916. The event took place in January 1919. The book goes further, detailing the civil suit brought against Purity/USIA (that took over 6 years to complete).

 

So much failure all round, but I did find a real-life Atticus Finch in lawyer in Damon Hall. Also the auditor for the state that presided over the civil suit investigation (Hugh Ogden) was in fine judging form. Anarchists, greed, stupidity, laziness, ambition, and 21 deaths (150 injured) - it's all here. It was a little repetitive regarding Italians dislike/disinterested in politics unless it was the anarchists. But it was really interesting about the little known disaster and the even less known lawsuit.

The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich

The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich

Lynn Povich was one of the women involved in the two class action lawsuits that occurred in the early days of the second wave feminist movement. She was a researcher, a reporter, a writer, and moved all the way up to the number 3 spot as an editor. She recounts the story in vivid detail, sometimes a little too gossipy. Katherine Graham might seem like a publishing titan today, but back when she first took over The Post Company (Newsweek was owned by the same owners as the Washington Post), she was just oblivious to how to run, react, and diffuse conflict. She came across as really dim-witted heiress.

 

The women who joined Povich in the lawsuits get good page time, along with their bad ass lawyers; first was Eleanor Holmes Norton, then assistant director over at the ACLU. When the Newsweek women needing mentoring, she was their number one coach. When the women needed a kick in the pants, she was the star kicker. The second lawyer was Harriett S. Rabb; she was a dog with a bone when it came to holding Newsweek's feet to the fire.

 

The book was very much to the point of who, why, and when, which is not surprising since Povich is a reporter at heart; the NOOK edition I read was 205 pages. There is context as background and how the lawsuits fit in the bigger narrative of the revolutionary 1960s and early 1970s. She does address race and that the black researchers were asked to join the lawsuit but they had declined and she gave reasons why they declined. I like the way Povich also spotlights the women working at Newsweek today (Newsweek is now a joint publication with The Daily Beast) and their efforts to fight back on discrimination that is still on-going at Newsweek.  

   

Friday Reads - January 5, 2018

Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 - Stephen Puleo Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - David von Drehle

This book meme was started by Nothing But a Good Book. Here is what I reading this first weekend of 2018 and into the first week of normalcy since the kids' winter break started.

 

I spent the morning fighting a bad migraine (by way of sleeping it off) and the afternoon taking down all the holiday decorations, packing it up, and storing back in the garage. Then I started some cross stitch projects (not enough progress for pictures yet). My eyes still hurt post migraine, so no reading going on today.

 

For the weekend and the first part of BoB cycle 21, I am reading Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo and Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David von Drehle. I will probably then just start on my list for the second phase of COYER once those two are done. 

 

 

Tea's TBR Thursday - January 4, 2018

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women - Kate Moore Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars - Nathalia Holt Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman - Lindy West Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

This book meme was created by Moonlight Reader. I really liked keeping track of what was added to, read, or deleted from my TBR. So I am starting off the new year by re-using the meme, although I will probably do every other week. Using this meme ensures I also update my master TBR list (spreadsheet).

 

So for every one book I read this week, I bought two new ones. This doesn't bode well for the TBR pile.

 

Read

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Full Body Burden by Kristen Iverson

                         

 

Borrowed

Nothing due to rules of COYER Winter Switch. This will change in the next phase of the challenge.

 

Bought

1. Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

    Women's history + military history (WWI) = happy reading for me. I am adding it to my WWI reading list.

 

2. Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt (currently on sale for $2.99 in the NOOK store)

    Because someone recommended this book after I reviewed Hidden Figures.

 

3. Shrill by Lindy West (also on sale in the NOOK store $2.99)

      Getting this recommended to me by GR after reviewing Bad Feminist.

 

4. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (on sale in the NOOK store for $1.99)

    I've wanted to try Alisha Rai's writing for a while. The first book in a new trilogy (last book comes out this month or is already out).

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iverson

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats - Kristen Iversen

Debated about whether to give this book a 2.5 or 3 star rating. This book is structured to tell two intertwining stories: the first, Iverson's memoirs of grouping up in the 1960s and 1970s, her college years, and all her bad decisions and dysfunctional family; the second, the Rocky Flats nuclear manufacturing plant (plutonium triggers or "buttons"). I could've done without her boring tales of her shyness around boys, her parents' marriage failing, her father's love for the bottle, her mother's neediness and love for pills, etc. It was only when her personal life met up with the Rocky Flats story (her getting a job there, the rates of cancer in the families in the neighborhood, her sister's anti-nuke protests and work with environmental groups) that her personal life mattered to me.

 

To be quite honest, I had never heard of Rocky Flats, even in the late 1980s and all through the 1990s and early 2000s. This was the story that made the book un-put-downable for me. The incidents, the fires, the scientists that were finding the pollution off the site back in the late 1960s and early 1970s and were dismissed as fear-mongering. Rocky Flats is an education in US government Cold War secrecy and corporate greed aided and abetted by a complacent local population that was paid handsomely for doing their jobs and not asking questions. Other nuclear arms manufacturing sites named (repeatedly) that I did not know of prior to reading this book are Hanford, Washington; Savannah River, Atlanta; and Oak City, Tennessee.

 

Rocky Flats is now a government owned "wildlife refuge and habitat" not open to the public, and not for a lack of trying to make it public by both the DOE and the state of Colorado. There is no way in hell I would ever visit there without a full Hazmat A suit and tank of air.

Currently reading

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin
Progress: 10%