The Black Bottom: The Black Bottom was a neighborhood that served as ground zero for Detroit’s contribution to jazz. Every major industrialized city had them. The speakeasies, the blind pigs, the honky-tonks that were the testing grounds and launching pad of America’s greatest of art form; jazz. It was in these back-alley, late night gathering holes that musicians banded for the voyaging of jazz while it was vaudeville that dispersed the craze across America. This was jazz in its adolescence. The raw, untamed, devil-may-care youth of jazz. The title, The Black Bottom, harkens back to an earlier time in Detroit’s history when the city was an agricultural community and this low basin was legendary for its rich, black soil. There is poetic beauty to this area transitioning from the cultivation of agriculture to the cultivation of music-culture. Today the neighborhood of The Black Bottom is buried under thousands of tons I 375 freeway. But the voices of the people entombed there, and the music they generated, call out from beneath the stone. THE BLACK BOTTOM: The Measure Of Man is what they have to say.About the novel: THE BLACK BOTTOM, The Measure of Man, is a Novel Noir psychological thriller set in the roar of a 1927 Detroit. In the America of the 1920’s, jazz was smack dab in its formative years, distending the edges of the musical landscape. Kaleb Kierka is a man without memory. Locked in the grip of amnesia as a result of a violent beating, he must quickly learn his history or become a victim to it. Kaleb’s narration unfolds of a young man who is at once an owner of an underground speakeasy, a Purple Gang affiliate, and a piano player in the seedier speakeasies of Detroit. Kaleb will need to recover his history quickly if he is to have any hope of avoiding his demise. The narration follows Kaleb as he negotiates the roar of the 20s. But time is short for Kaleb to recover his memory as violence follows him like a dark shadow; a silhouetted memory of a violent chronicle. Jazz, amnesia, the Roaring Twenties, prohibition, gang wars, union wars and 1927 Detroit are all explored in this psychological thriller.
I grew up in Detroit, though in the 50’s & 60’s, so was very interested in this book because of the history of my hometown. I was also drawn to it by the simple fact that I know the author. I haven’t seen him in 40+ years, since the time we shared a flat with another friend on the east side of Detroit. I knew Theo as Ted, and we shared a lot of good times, including watching him grow as a musician. He has since expanded upon his creativity to include authoring this fabulous look at 1927 Detroit, a Detroit that is dynamic, a Detroit that is on the cutting edge of industry, a Detroit that is the conduit for much of the illegal alcohol brought into the States during Prohibition. Not only does the author paint a picture of that city and that time, he has sculpted a portrait of a man lost to himself struggling to find who he is. The use of Blue the psychoanalyzing feline, rhapsodizing the plight of mankind to the tune of a mournful, deep throated Sax, as Kaleb pieces his life together, is a highlight of the tale. However, the search for identity is dovetailed nicely into a page turning thrilling crime/mystery. It was also very easy to fall in love with the characters, even the heavies of The Rubble. For some it was an agonizing hope that life would improve, for others it was a sort of identification with the young boys and their bonding together.
While I never had the chance to trod the Black Bottom streets, as it was during my time that it was plowed under for I-375….though I once got a jaywalking ticket as me and some friends crossed over the, as yet unopened, freeway on our way to Tiger Stadium. So, perhaps I did walk over the spot where Kaleb’s speakeasy lived and breathed the sounds of jazz. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
On the Empire’s Northern border trouble is stirring. For decades the barbarians have been at the gates. Now, facing threats from within as well as outside, the Emperor is provoking war.
When his friend Atius goes missing in Germania, Imperial Assassin Silus is sent into the heart of the battle-torn region.
Plunged into a deadly intrigue and a brutal conflict, can Silus find out who is betraying Rome? Or will the legions start falling, one by bloody one?
Ulterior motives in the guise of friendship and alliance is the crux of the problem Silus faces in this drama filled episode. A compelling page turner that finds the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship strained to their limits. It is an exciting tale pitting the legacy hunting Caracalla against any and all barbarians, and he’ll do anything to come out victorious, and that has Silus and Atius at odds with each other, let alone at odds with Rome’s motives.
Series: The Locket, Book One Genre: Historical Romance/Scottish/Time Travel
He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…
Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction. The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?
Some day, I hope to write a book that leaves every single reader in tears with not a Happily Ever After in sight. Truth be told, The Whirlpools of Time almost became that book, because originally, Erin and Duncan ended up on separate sides of the great divide of time. I even wrote a heart wrenching scene with Erin on her deathbed, still yearning for the man she’d known and loved for such a short time.
Thing is, while I aspire to write such a book, once I get to know my characters, I simply can’t put them through such pain. Nope, my lead men and women may have to fight their way through a series of obstacles to get to that sunset ending, but at least they do get there at the end. Somewhat marked by life, in some cases a tad damaged, but still alive, still together.
Should I write realistic books, my heroines would die in childbirth, my heroes of septicaemia. They’d end up hanged at the fickle say-so of a disgruntled king, perish in smallpox or the plague. After all, life is rarely rosy, is it? It sure isn’t now, and it deffo wasn’t in the past. And while I love the concept of time travel—hence books featuring time travellers—I don’t think I’d like it much if I were to be thrown three centuries backwards in time. Plus, I seriously doubt I’d survive all that long in a world so lacking when it comes to the basics we take for granted—things like indoor plumbing and effective medicine. And I am not entirely sure meeting the man of my life would fully compensate for everything I lost, but I choose not to voice that out loud, as at present my heroine Erin is very, very angry with me for having a) transported her to 1715 b) left her there, albeit with the handsome and protective Duncan at her side.
The above begs the question: does Erin really get a Happily Ever After when she’s stranded in another time? I would argue that she does—in the sense that she’s still alive as is Duncan, and that it is them against the world as they ride off into the sunset. “Hmph!” Erin studies me while struggling with the laces of her bodice. “I should be satisfied with that, is that what you’re saying?” “The alternative would be to wrench you apart—permanently,” I tell her calmly.
“The alternative would be to have us happy in my time,” she protests.
“Yeh, that would really work out with badass Josephine Wilkes breathing down your neck.”
Erin sighs. “Couldn’t you just kill her off?”
I scowl. No, I can’t just kill peeps off! There has to be some logic and structure to a novel, thank you very much. Besides, Josephine Wilkes is pretty scary—even as a figment of my imagination—so I prefer to keep my interaction with her down to a minimum.
Back to the compulsion to write books with a Happily Ever After: Like most writers, I write to please myself. Yes, obviously I want readers to love my books, but ultimately, writing is a lonely pursuit where there is only one taskmaster to please—me. When I write, I step into a bubble of make-believe, a world where, to some extent, I am in charge. While any good book relies on plenty of conflict and tension to hook the reader, while all good reads must have characters that are somehow relatable—no matter when they lived, you have to highlight the characteristics that make them universally human—I can treat myself to adding the odd piece of pink and fluffy love. I need pink and fluffy love. I think most people do, actually, even if not everyone subscribes to the view that love is either pink or fluffy. I don’t either: my protagonists experience the thorny and darker aspects of love as well, but IMO some pink has never hurt anyone.
I write to escape from the world around us. I enjoy submerging myself in the fantasy of a simpler world, one where I can somehow dictate how things will turn out. Mind you, quite often things don’t turn out as I planned. Seriously, some characters have major, major problems with authority, which is why my original plotline never holds. But so far, I have managed to keep my protagonists alive until the end of my books. I have maimed them, imprisoned them, abducted them, almost drowned them, enslaved them—but I’ve not killed them. “And that’s supposed to be a comfort?” Erin asks from where she’s pilfered some of my tea and chocolate (Poor woman, stuck in a time where Hershey kisses have as yet to be invented, and tea is a luxury. I therefore pretend not to notice…) “Would you rather be dead? Or would you have wanted Duncan to die from the injuries he sustained fighting those French Jacobites?” She blinks. “No,” she says. “No,” she repeats and gets to her feet. “And if you ever—ever—put him through something like that again, I’ll…” I grin. I knew she loved him more than chocolate and tea, more than TV and cell phones! “Huh.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “Of course I do,” she concedes after a while. “After all, he’s my other half.”
And there, dear readers, you have it: while I yank Erin out of her context, while I dump her in an utterly unfamiliar world, put her through I don’t know how many harrowing moments, I give her a companion through life to help her handle all that. IMO, not a bad trade off.
In real life, very few of us are fortunate enough to meet that other half and form a bond that lasts a lifetime. But hey, The Whirlpools of Time is fiction. More precisely, it is romantic fiction, and so….taa-daa…you are always, always guaranteed a Happily Ever After and a love that transcends just about everything. Awww.
As I wrote to begin with, I have the ambition to one day write a book that will leave my readers in tears. When I do, that book will be labelled Historical Fiction, pure and simple. Until then, am quite, quite happy to keep on writing my historical fiction in the sub-genre Historical Romance—and Time Travel Romance! After all, as long as there is Romance involved I can keep on indulging in those little swirls of pink and fluffy. Because seriously, what would life be without a dollop or two of love?
About the Author
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.
All her life, Etta Wozniak has toiled on her family’s small farm, located on the outskirts of a lake resort town. After losing her mother and siblings to one misfortune or another, life has fallen into a rut of drudgery and predictability. That is, until the day she discovers something in an unlikely place; an old car. Energized by the prospects of a world beyond the one she knows, she decides to make this her last summer on the farm. However, disaster is not through with Etta yet, and there will be consequences for her upcoming departure.
Art Adams, a recent college man, arrives in town for a family reunion. After years of moving from one city to another and avoiding conflict whenever it tries to find him, he becomes enamored with the lake. However, there is another reason for Art’s visit. He is to marry a woman he has never met before; an arrangement that was made on his behalf and without his knowledge. More comfortable around numbers and machines than people, Art is reluctant to confront his parents on the matter. But if he decides to do nothing, he risks losing who and what he has come to love.
In a small town of farmers and firemen, musicians and moonshiners, bossy parents and barn parties, two people will come to understand what they must give up in order to have the chance to build something new.
Not Blessed with Luck
What on Earth does that chicken see?
The kitchen was dark, but it was a familiar space and she knew it well. The only clock in the house ticked loudly somewhere in the blackness. She gave the box of matches a habitual rattle, and frowned at the hollow sound it made. There were probably more fingers on her hands than there were matches within. Unsure how that had escaped her notice, Etta resolved to pick up more on the next trip to town.
Lighting the kerosene lamp, she squinted against the warm, golden light. It was 1928, and the house had been fitted with electric lights some ten years earlier. While far more convenient, they were also more expensive than burning oil. Once, the Wozniaks had been relatively well off and could afford to turn the lights on without a second thought. Those days, sadly, were long past.
Now able to see, her chores could begin.
Breathing into cupped hands did little to fight the numbness in her fingertips. A fleeting relief, it would serve to give her enough time to clean the stove and start on the fire. Had she discovered one or two hot coals hidden among the powdery, gray ashes that would have made things just a little easier. But no. At least Papa had made kindling the night before. By and large, Etta did things for herself but using the hatchet was one chore she would gladly leave to her father. Sharp metal swinging so close to her hands caused her a tremble that had nothing to do with the cold.
As the growing fire started to chase the ice from her bones she pulled a thick, woolen cap over her blonde head. Snug and warm, it had once belonged to her oldest brother Edward, and was knitted by their mother, Lena. Wearing it helped Etta to remember them, and warmed both body and soul.
Movement in the darkness caught her attention. Etta looked over to find a pair of large, green eyes staring back at her. A black and orange tortoiseshell cat approached the firelight, stopping just beyond arms’ length but close enough to be warmed. The cat regarded Etta with apparent indifference, yet cried loudly as she dropped onto her haunches. Making no move, Etta, responded with a sigh.
“Morning, Howler,” she said flippantly.
Little family that she had left, and this damn cat was one of them. She had been named by Etta’s younger, sister, Irene, and out of respect to her, Etta could not bring herself to cast the animal out. As if such a thing were possible. Every morning, Etta let Howler outside, but could seldom recall letting her back in at the end of the day. Yet, without fail, she would simply reappear.
“I’ll let you out when I’m damn well ready,” Etta muttered.
Howler cried in response.
“Don’t push me, cat.”
Warm at last, a growing personal urgency could no longer be ignored. She resolved herself to going outside. If the first few seconds of exposing her feet to the frigid air was the worst part of her morning, leaving the relative warmth of the house to use the necessary was a close second. After years of this routine, the morning hours hardly bothered her anymore. But walking to the outhouse, no matter the temperature or season never got any easier. At least it was not snowing.
She opened the door and nearly tripped over Howler as the cat ran between her feet to escape. The glow of the lantern revealed a fog that had settled on the farm overnight. It was above freezing, but not by much and the air was heavy with moisture. Etta trudged on. With luck, the sun would burn off the mist when it eventually put in an appearance.
On the other hand, none of her family had been particularly blessed with luck.
About the Author
Wes Verde is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.
Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.
A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.
The wolves of Odin have been unleashed: the hunt has begun. Anno Domini 1040. Christianity has swept unstoppably across Scandinavia, leaving few enclaves of the old ways clinging on to their fading world as King Olof of Sweden works to convert his people.
A young warrior, Halfdan, has witnessed the ‘mercy’ of the Christian lords, watched his people attacked, his village burned and the Odin stone toppled as heretical. Watched his father cut down by an ambitious Christian jarl and his zealous priest. Among the ashes of his world he vowed an oath of vengeance before all the gods.
That oath will bring together an unlikely band of allies and carry them to the very edge of the world, fighting giants, dragons and wraiths, in pursuit of his father’s killer: Yngvar. The jarl is powerful, and the weaving of Fate difficult, but the blood price must be paid.
One of my favorite authors, for some unknown reason, has left his comfort zones of Roman and Byzantine fiction. You won’t find me complaining though. I reckon he’s pretty comfortable with Odin One-Eye and The Norns if this book is any indication. As the title says, it is a tale of seeking vengeance, and this forms the core of the tale; Hafdan’s plan for revenge. But, it is also a tale of steadfastness in the face of a most dangerous foe; religious zealotry.
In typical Turney fashion, the story is rich in historical detail, and it is that detail which is molded into a believable tale. The cast of characters gives the reader a glimpse into the various mindsets of Dark Age warriors, nobles, and spiritual guides. It is a struggle to survive in a world coming to grips with the ‘old ways’ disappearing, yet The Norns still have their say while Odin’s ravens keep watch. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A young man from Minnesota finds himself on a Korean hilltop in July 1950. He becomes a prisoner-of-war, face to face with an enemy he was never trained to fight. Resisting Chinese efforts at “re-education,” Swede decides they might kill him, but will never defeat him. To fight back, he convinces some of his fellow prisoners to become a secret army within the camps. They struggle to survive and go home with their honor intact. Their story will take you into the POW camps of the Korean War – into the minds of both the prisoners and their captors. After seventy years of being kept in the dark, their story is one that must be told.
Anytime an author can take the historical record, and create a fictional rendering that is as compelling as this book, you as a reader are guaranteed to be turning pages. I don’t have much experience with The Korean War other than M.A.S.H. and The Manchurian Candidate. I was born in 1951, and the subject matter hadn’t gotten to the point where it was taught in school while I was a kid. Indeed my knowledge is more attuned to the conditions for POW’s in Vietnam. (a side note – for anyone to denigrate a POW in the fashion done by an ex-president who never served in the military, is completely unforgivable.) The amount of suffering the POWs had at the hands of ideologically saturated belligerents; physically, and mentally, and the resourcefulness of those who refused to give in is certainly an inspiration. This is what drives this tale, the inspired actions of the powerless as they do what needs to be done; survive. The amalgamation of American prisoners and their deeds are deftly portrayed in some rather wonderfully crafted characters. It is a well-researched tale, and full of details of the camps, the enemy, and the ways and means of the captors and the captives, so the reader is immersed in the action. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, the author has created a believable fiction out of a truly unfathomable event. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Summer, AD 69. Rome and its empire are in turmoil, caught in the coils of a desperate and destructive civil war.
The emperor Otho is dead by his own hand and his rival, Aulus Vitellius, occupies the imperial throne. However, a new challenge has arisen in the East – the legions of Titus Flavius Vespasian have declared him their Emperor.
In the dry heat of an August morning, Gaius Valerius Verrens prepares for his last day on earth. Wrongly accused of deserting his legion on the field of Bedriacum, it seems he is destined to die a coward’s death.
Then the executioner’s hand is stayed. Vitellius’ enemies will spare the life of the man who was once Hero of Rome if he pledges allegiance to Vespasian and his cause. Valerius – tired of the endless slaughter and hoping that he might be reunited with his lost love – agrees. And so he must battle his way south to Rome in order to persuade his friend Vitellius to stand down for the greater good of the city, its people and the Empire.
But this is civil war and this is Rome, and Valerius – his loyalties divided and branded an enemy of the people – is trapped in a maze of distrust, corruption, betrayal and blood-letting .
You have to feel for a protagonist who finds himself fighting for, and against every side in a war. Yeah, the author certainly has it in for his creation…of course that’s what makes this such an entertaining series. Notch up another winner…next one is already loaded up on me Kindle.😁 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
After Sancho II of Castile dispatches his champion Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar to capture his brother, King Garcia of Galicia, he hopes it is a defining moment in his quest to reunite the lands of his father under one banner. But Alfonso VI of Leon is one step ahead, and has already added the lands of Galicia to his domain. When the only alternative is war, Sancho turns to Rodrigo to lead the armies of Castile, and he must use all his tactical acumen to defeat the Leonese in the field. Only one son of Fernando can claim victory and become the Emperor of Hispania.
Rodrigo and Antonio, now a knight of the realm, find difficulty adjusting to the new regime. Dissent and unrest run rife throughout the kingdom, and the fear of a knife in the dark from enemies old and new hangs heavy upon the pair. But if it is allowed to fester, it threatens to undo all that has been achieved. Can Rodrigo and Antonio root out the enemies of the king, and prevent chaos reigning throughout the land?
The Fall of Kings in the breath taking third instalment of the Legend of the Cid.
One of the results of my reading this captivating series is that I find myself researching what to me is an unfamiliar piece of history, and what is abundantly clear is that the author has created an amazing tale from the historical record. I had enjoyed the first two volumes, this one I love. The author has captured the mindset of the medieval knight, the loyalty and devotion to one’s Lord and King, and the unending enmity between rivals for the throne. Brutal is a good word to describe any civil war, and this one between Leon and Castile is no exception. But wait, there’s more – throw in the increasing tension between Christian and Moor…a good old fashioned, fueled by religious fervor, war is in the offing. And lest we forget, there’s still a little matter of vengeance to complete. 😎 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The final, thrilling instalmentin the epic Vespasian series from the bestselling author, Robert Fabbri.
Rome, AD 68. Vespasian is tasked with the impossible. Should he quell the revolt in Judaea, as Nero the emperor has instructed, or must he resort to the unthinkable and sabotage his own campaign? If his conquest succeeds, he risks becoming the sole object of the mad emperor’s jealousy. If he fails, then his punishment will be severe. The fate of his men and his beloved son, Titus, all hang in the balance.
But unknown to Vespasian, Nero has committed suicide, catapulting Rome into political turmoil. Sabinus, Vespasian’s brother, is caught between the warring factions of Aulus Vitellius, a cruel opportunist, and the noble Marcus Salvius Otho, who finds himself severely outnumbered. Seeing no aid on the horizon, Sabinus must rely on wit, and wit alone, to ensure the safety of his family.
With a contested throne and an army at his disposal, now may finally be Vespasian’s time – to ascend, to conquer, to achieve what countless prophecies have foretold and take control of Rome itself. Will Vespasian, at long last, be the one to wear the purple?
Well my peeps and fellow travelers of the Vespasian saga, the tale is now complete. I reckon it’s not much of a spoiler to say that the good guy wins in the end, though even knowing how it ends does not detract from the masterful telling of the tale. Bringing to life the chaotic political landscape while shaping the outcome through the prophecies is simply put, some damn fine writing. Then again, that’s been evident through all nine books, if you catch my meaning. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rome has a new emperor; a strong emperor. Septimius Severus, a lion of the battlefield, now moves east to face the usurper Pescennius Niger, contesting with a clever opponent with the ultimate prize in the balance: the throne of Rome.
But with civil war raging all across the East, problems abound. One of the frumentarii, the emperor’s military agents, has gone missing in Arabia, and with him has gone a list of the service’s personnel.
With just a slave familiar with the east, Rufinus sets off for an outpost on the edge of the empire, seeking the missing agent in an attempt to save all those on the list before it falls into enemy hands. A war-torn land, treachery and violence await…
Oh what a tangled web we weave when we choose the wrong people to believe. Another stunning performance by our one time clumsy, naïve hero. Though it is a gut-wrenching one on many levels. On a mission in the middle of a warzone (a civil warzone), Rufinus finds out the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem. Pulling out all the stops, the author has created a tale with no straight lines…matters of trust and loyalty are muddled…the path to success a tortuous twisted affair… Actually, I don’t know why I was so surprised by the surprises. They are undeniable proof of a master at his craft. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and a hope that Sheba is in season. 😎🤞