Category Archives: Guest Post

SBHM Guest: Lynn Balabanos on Lesser Known Heroes & Heroines of Black History Month

Hi friends! So we’re doing this! Celebrating Smithsonian Heritage Months again! I’ve been asking anyone and everyone to participate, and today we have a contribution from Lynn Balabanos. 😀 I hope you’ll check out what she has to say!

The numerous contributions the Black community has made to the fabric of our country are inspiring and instrumental. Most of us learn about the heavy hitters in school, individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriett Tubman and Rosa Parks. Important people, absolutely, but they were not alone in their struggles for equality and freedom. In honor of Black Heritage Month, I’d like to share just few of the lesser known heroes and heroines.

Benjamin Banneker PortraitBenjamin Banneker (1731-1806)

Next time you look at a photograph of Washington, D.C., I hope you think of Benjamin Banneker.

He was born in Maryland a free Black man. He was mostly self-educated and drew a reputation for being an amazing mathematician and astronomer. In 1789, he was part of the surveying team that laid out the plans for Washington D.C. When L’Enfant, the Frenchman hired to build the capital, walked off of the site taking all of the plans with him, it was Benjamin who re-created from memory the layout of the streets, parks and major buildings. Without him, our nation’s capital wouldn’t look the way it does today.

Benjamin’s achievements don’t stop there. At the age of 22, he built a wooden clock that accurately kept time, despite having no formal training regarding clock making. He created a crop irrigation system, producing food which prevented US soldiers during the Revolutionary War from starving. Oh, and the Farmers’ Almanac? You know, the book farmers relied on for generations to predict weather and crop planting.* It was invented by Benjamin Banneker, who did all of the calculations himself for the first six years of its existence.

As if that wasn’t enough, Benjamin, throughout a long correspondence, urged Thomas Jefferson to create racial equality and abolish slavery.

Garrett MorganGarrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963)

Every time you drive or see a firefighter, you should think of Garrett Augustus Morgan. This man saved countless numbers of lives and the modification of his inventions still exist and are in use today.

Garrett Morgan was a prolific inventor. Born in Kentucky, he only had a grade school education. In 1914, he created a safety device, a canvass hood with two breathing tubes. The device would filter smoke backwards while cooling the air inside. This “safety hood” was used by firefighters, who had at that time had almost no protection from the smoke and gases they encountered while in the line of duty. His invention was also used by the U.S. Army and was the precursor for the gas masks used in WWI.

In 1923, Garrett Morgan invented the first mechanical traffic signal, a rudimentary version of the three way traffic light we use today. While traffic lights existed before, Garrett’s included a warning signal to drivers as well as the standard stop and go.

In addition to his successful inventions, he was also an activist and philanthropist. Garrett was a member of newly formed NAACP, gave money for young Black men to go to college and opened the first Black country club.

Dr. Charles DrewDr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)

Every time you donate blood, especially to the American Red Cross, Dr. Charles Richard Drew is who you should think of.

He was born in segregated Washington D.C. but, although he was very bright, he didn’t have enough money to attend medical school. He worked for a few years as a biology instructor and eventually was accepted to McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He graduated second in his class and earned both a Doctor of Medicine and a Masters of Surgery. In 1938, he received a Rockefeller Fellowship to study at the University of Columbia in New York. It was there he was able to continue his work on blood related matters, and he developed a process for preserving blood plasma thereby making it possible to be stored or “banked” for longer periods of time. His doctoral theses entitled “Banked Blood” earned him a Doctorate Degree from Columbia. He was the first African-American in history to earn this degree from Columbia.

When WWII broke out, he was invited by Britain to head up their special campaign, “Blood for Britain.” In this capacity, he collected blood from New York and shipped it overseas where it was used to treat soldiers. He ran the program so successfully that one report says he was able to collect over 14,000 pints of plasma.

As a result of both his research and his work with Britain, in 1941, Dr. Drew was made Director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank. He successfully created processes and procedures for blood donation and distribution that saved countless lives. Among his innovations, was the mobile blood donation center, much like the ones still in existence today.

Unfortunately, Dr. Drew didn’t stay as director of the blood bank long. When the program started, African Americans were prohibited from donating, per U.S. military rules. This meant that Dr. Drew couldn’t even donate his own blood to the bank he’d not only created but also ran. He fought to change the rules and the result the military relented – but only a little. African Americans were able to donate but their blood was segregated and only used for African American soldiers. Unable to agree to these terms, Dr. Drew resigned in 1942.

Bessie ColemanElisabeth “Bessie” Coleman (1892-1926)

Whenever you go to an air show, or see a pilot doing stunts, think of Bessie Coleman.

She was born in Texas during segregation. Her parents were uneducated and illiterate and Bessie herself went to school in a one room shack. As a young adult, she moved to Chicago and lived with her older brothers, working as a manicurist. It was during this time, listening to the pilots returning from WWI, that she developed an interest in aviation. In 1918, there were very few women pilots and all of them were white and wealthy. Bessie applied to aviation schools across the country but was turned away, her race and her gender a double strike against her.

So, she taught herself French and, taking all of her life savings, moved to France. As you do. She completed flight training at the best flight school in France, graduating in only seven months. She became the first African American woman to hold to hold an international pilot’s license.

Bessie went on to perform at countless stunt shows and became one of the best known aviators of her time, due in large part because of her skill and daring. She dreamed of opening her own aviation school, and routinely encouraged other African Americans to pursue their pilot’s license. In addition, Bessie refused to participate in an event in which African Americans were not welcome.

Sadly, Bessie never lived long enough to establish her aviation school. She died during a stunt in 1926. However, her life and accomplishments inspired generations, including but not limited to Mae C. Jemison, the first African American woman in space who reported took a photograph of Bessie with her on the mission.

These individuals are only a selected few, but there are so many more. Please, take some time this month and check out the Smithsonian’s website. They have lots of fascinating information on historical figures, as well as music, art and so much more. In addition, if you have any stories or interesting tidbits regarding Black Heritage Month you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

Thanks so much for this post, Lynn! I actually knew about Dr. Charles Drew because of Archer – but I didn’t know he was Black! The more you know! So cool. 😀 (I’d also like to note that Rosa Parks was born on this day 103 years ago! Her deliberate and brave acts truly facilitated change and momentum for the Civil Rights Movement.)

*So I’m pretty sure he didn’t invent the Farmers’ Almanac, but he did publish six Almanacs, with a lot of impressive information, at a time where a Black author was basically unheard of.

Guest Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Liza’s review of The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
Historical romance released by Avon on December 29, 2015

The Rogue Not TakenLady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

I’ve enjoyed Sarah MacLean’s books in the past so I was excited to get a new book from her. I wanted to learn more about Sophie Talbot and see if she could find her happiness. I absolutely love reading about a rogue in historical romances, and Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley fit the bill completely.

I absolutely adored Sophie Talbot from the moment she hit the page. She is such a strong and protective character. She will do whatever it takes to protect her sisters and her family. I also love that she had the strength of character to know she didn’t want to remain in London and found a way to leave.  Sophie is extremely intelligent and her love of books on every subject only endeared her more to me. I did think that for such an intelligent woman, Sophie didn’t plan ahead very well and really was very naive in how she saw the world. I really felt like she saw much of the world through rose-colored glasses.

I’ll say right from the start that I didn’t love King when we first met him. I loved the idea of the rogue who ends engagements, but he was pretty much all about himself at first and it put me off him for a bit. Even though I didn’t love him in the beginning, I still saw his potential to be charming. I also really liked how quickly his protective nature seemed to kick in when it came to Sophie. He still remained a tool towards Sophie through much of the book, but I started to see there was more to his character the longer they were together. King will never be my favorite hero in a Sarah MacLean story, but I did feel like he redeemed himself enough in the end for me to at least like him.

The Rogue Not Taken was a very slow read for me. While the attraction was there between Sophie and King from pretty much the minute they met, it took so long for their relationship to move from constant nitpicking to something more. I did find many of the situations both Sophie and King got themselves into quite funny. In fact as the romance built so slowly for me, the humor is what kept me reading. I did love the more attracted King and Sophie became to one another the more they found ways of spending more time together. I need to point out that since I read more contemporary romances than historical romances, I have to remind myself most of the romantic build up is slower with a historical romance. I really did love the romance between King and Sophie once it moved from more than companions who just picked at each other like kids on a playground.

Overall, I enjoyed The Rogue Not Taken. I would definitely read more books by Sarah MacLean. In fact, I really want to know more about Sophie’s sisters and I somehow missed Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, where Sophie was first introduced. While I had some issues with The Rogue Not Taken, I still would recommend it to other readers. I really enjoyed Sarah MacLean’s voice and look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

Grade: B-

You can buy a copy here.

Guest Deelylah Mullin: WTF Was I Thinking?

Hi friends! The Universe has been treating me to a lot of WTFery so I felt this was the perfect post to share here. As you see we’ve got Deelylah Mullin visiting with us, so enjoy! [Yes, I’m trying to tie things all together and honestly I know Deelylah is going to much more entertaining and interesting that I am today. So THERE YOU HAVE IT!] WHEE!

WTF Was I Thinking?

The BossMany thanks to Limecello for letting me guest post today! Y’all are getting a bit of stream-of-consciousness about stuff today. 🙂

I am a teacher. Anyone that’s ever been a teacher knows it’s much more work to get ready for a substitute than to actually show up for work. Teachers work all the time when they’re sick, stressed-out, and a host of other reasons normal people don’t go to work.

I *chose* to be a teacher. This is all on me.

I am super excited to see some of my friends on Wednesday. Now, most of you are probably thinking, “Wait. It’s summer. Teachers don’t work in the summer!” Most of the time, you’d be right. However, I teach in a residential placement facility. We have summer school. So, for me to see some of the special people in my life that I don’t get to see often, I have to make sub plans. Which are the bane of my existence.

I’m starting my fourth year teaching in this location. I’ve been teaching since 1991. Yes. That makes next year my silver anniversary of teaching. You’d think I would have a ‘system’ down by now, but that’s not the case. Legislators keep sticking their noses into my classroom. Standards and curricula change. We need to collect data on everything we do. What makes that even more of a challenge is the fact I’m also a special education teacher. Even MORE data.

So, by this point you’re thinking, “WTF does this have to do with anything pertinent to my life?” Bear with me. I’m getting there.

With bachelor degrees in music and English, as well as that master’s in special education, I’ve taught music for fourteen years, English for five years, college composition for two years, and I was a special education resource room teacher for three years. I like teaching. It makes me happy when the lightbulb goes on and my students ‘get’ a concept.

But it’s not my passion.

I always knew something was missing. When I was in college in the 80s, I majored in music because I was awarded a full-ride, ability-based scholarship. I added an English major, with a creative writing focus. I’ve always wanted to write. In March of 2013, I started editing books, quite by accident.

In editing, I found my passion.

Athena's AshesEditing makes me happy. It uses my skillsets, and I still get to teach my authors a thing or two about words. Even though it’s a behind-the-scenes thing, I still take pride in my author’s achievements. When I get an email with recent statistics and new news about a book that ends with, “We made that!!!” I get all warm and fuzzy inside. I always want to sit on my yoga ball chair at my desk and edit. I don’t really consider it work most of the time. The adrenaline rush of making a deadline is a high unlike any other for me. My stomach gets butterflies on release day, and I wait alongside authors for the first reviews to come in. I watch rankings on retailers.

If I could edit full-time, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I still don’t know WTF I was thinking when I decided to be a teacher, other than I like working with words, and I like problem solving. I mean, what *do* you do with a BA in music, other than teach? Not much, especially when I didn’t want to move away from my family. I knew I wasn’t going to become a great author five minutes after graduating. So, I taught.

If I weren’t teaching summer school, I wouldn’t have to make sub plans to spend the day with friends on Wednesday. I might be a little resentful of my teaching gig because I have to spend time, in which I could be editing, to finish those plans, probably. If I were editing full time, I’d just have to be ahead on my projects so I could afford, time-wise, to not work for a day. Piece of cake.

So, I’ll make my plans and continue to wonder WTF I was thinking. But someday, I’ll be able to do, full time, what brings me joy. And that’s play with words.

Special Reader Guest: Alys

Hi friends! So I’d like to crawl into a hole with a fluffy blanket and just … sleep and rest for about a week, but I know I don’t get that. Alas. However, today we have a reader featured at ALBTALBS! These are some of my favorite posts, and I really hope you’ll read what Alys has to say. [Also – the pictures were sent embedded, which WP can’t handle – so odd formatting/whatever is on me. Forgive me.]

Unexpected MagicUm…hello everyone, this is little Alys from some blog somewhere with some twitter someplace and such and whatnot. Not really important. What is important is that for some reason, our dear Limecello (during a momentary lapse of judgment, I’m sure) felt that I was awesome enough to do a guest reader post for her much cooler blog and be on par- ok not on par, more like bask in the warm glowing limelight of equally cool writers/readers/guest posts.

Therefore, too bad for you! Now you’ll have to suffer through my enormously absurd posts. Mwahahahaha. You must endure through this post – ay, hey!! Don’t click that x in the corner and don’t even think about hitting that back button. You know your curiosity won’t let you. XP

In all honesty, I was very hesitant when Lime asked me to do a guest post. I barely update on my own blog anymore and my twitter consists almost entirely of retweeted pictures of adorable animals I don’t have and breathtakingly gorgeous places I’d never been. I guess one thing Limecello and I have obsessively in common would be our love of reading and Asian tv shows/movies and that probably gave her some measure of confidence that I’m sane enough to guest post. I’m just kidding, Lime knows I’m nowhere near sane.

Okay then, after all this ranting, let’s get to the good stuff. I do want to put in some disclaimers that would either help you, dear reader, have a better perspective, understanding or reasoning for the information and personal opinions below. Limecello and ALBTALBS are in no way responsible for what happens to you for reading this – I mean, for the contents of said guest. 😉

Strange Tales from a Chinese StudioI love stories no matter the medium, but reading has always been my first love. Many of my favorite tv series and movies tend to have been adapted from novels. I was once one of those book-starved child that read anything and everything I was able to get my hands on. I have since grown much much much picker (but not as picky as someone *coughLimecellocough*) about the contents, intents, and accuracy.

My first love had always been folklores, fairytales and legends. Thus, to this day I still obsess over anything related to them. Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling has been an all-time favorite since before I was able to read.

If you watch or read a lot of Chinese paranormal or historical stories, you’ll actually be able to trace a lot ideas, themes and morals to this collection. It’s by no means a perfect collection, but for a collection dated a few centuries, many of the stories were actually pointed out the hierocracy of those that felt they were better than others. While monsters were feared, humans were even worse monsters. Ghosts, spirits and shifters that were universally feared were often more loyal than people.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan was a collection of stories from around the world featuring female protagonists. A professor suggested I read this book when she was discussing folklores and how in oral traditions, protagonists were very closely split down the middle for both genders. Once they were written down, the number went to about 70 to 80 percent male protagonists. Don’t quote me on it, since I’m writing this based on memory from like I don’t know how long ago *coughdecadescough*. I really loved this book as well and in was able to showcase a lot of different cultures. It also gave some more sources where I was able to actively look for more. Heh.

These two were often my go to faves during times of slumps and idle moments of peace. I have also have Euripides somewhere, but I cannot find it in the masses of boxes at the moment.

Speaking of story slumps, I do have a few wonderful go-to authors that really need no introductions. I just wanted to fawn over them.

Yes, Lisa Kleypas. I do love her historical romances. There was always so comforting about reading her stories. I also fangirl-ed way too much in front of her once. Now I hide in shame.

I loved the book above because of the animals. I shall shamelessly say it.

Another two go to authors whom I admire are Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh, but for two different reasons. For me, Kresley Cole books function like candy. Too much is not good for my general state of mind (since I start thinking random violence solves thing…it doesn’t), but we gotta have a little crazy randomness every now and then. I also adore her heroines for being a little out there, but always able to hold their ground.

Nalini Singh books, on the other hand, came to me at a time when I was in a deep slump and feeling unable to connect to any of the mainstream books at that time. Not only does she contain very diverse characters, but each maintained their own uniqueness that was both endearing and empowering. Also, did you know there was a Harlequin manga based on one of her very early Desire books? Yeah…it’s awesome. I haz it. 😀

Now, two more authors whom I’ve grown more and more into their books.

A Lady's Lesson in ScandalA Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran was one of the books the embodied so much of what I was looking for in historical romances. All of Meredith Duran’s books were awesome for me, her stories always contained this grittiness and realism that many writers simply glossed over or outright ignored. As much as people loved to glamourize that era, realistically, it probably wasn’t all that awesome nor exciting. That’s the time of colonization and slave trades, slums and industrialized poverty with child labor and… I need to stop myself. Getting off topic. For me, Meredith Duran didn’t shy away from many of the realities and it meant so much.

Sherry Thomas was another write that wrote wonderfully. I just want to minor-ly complain the heroes don’t grovel enough. 😛

A few other authors I adore and want to honorly mention:

Marjorie M. Liu – I adore her writing. She also wrote some comic books! Her stories and characters were so diverse and unique, all over the world really. Adore!!! Minor sidenote: I heard on NPR they were bring back romance comic books! I hope she’ll be involved. Maybe? Pretty please?

Jeannie Lin – Chinese historical romances with Asian protagonists that were stereotypes would be a mild description. Let’s just say I’m waiting for her to go full on wuxia. She needs to. Needs. To.

Sarah Morgan – she does Harlequin Presents right. Her characters are so realistic and so awesome. Yup.

Tessa Dare – Her books were also more comfort read, much in the line of my reading Kresley Cole. Historical settings and very fun characters.

Heart of ObsidianIf you are still there, dear reader, you’ll have noticed the pattern. I do love having romances and love stories. And what is an awesome novel without love and romance? Nothing. A novel is nothing without love. Why am I so adamant? Try going through life without any romance and love. Honestly, I don’t know any particular individual that can go through life without any affection for family, friends, or themselves. So whether it be a love of a character, a story, a plot, a writer – I always enjoy stories with a lot of love.

Romance novels had been a way to assure the reader that good triumphs over those that choose to harm. And female empowerment! I mean, er, we have female centric protagonists that triumphs over hardship and trials of life and still get the guy. 😉 Seriously though, reality sucks enough as it is – especially for women, so why rip on something that actively exemplified success for women? Yes, there’s a bunch of formulas and there’s no escaping trends, but the main core of these stories have always been about human strengths and struggles. It is in every culture and in every story – an universal theme, if I may be so cliché to write. 😉

So…I’m trying to draw a tangent to another topic and failing horribly, so you get to suffer this weird divergence…

Lately, I’ve been obsess – er, focusing more on Asian romance stories via mediums such as TV shows, movies and internet novels. Oh my gosh, internet novels rock so much.

The Empress in the Palace (Zhen Huan Zhuan) 甄嬛傳 

This was one of the shows that brought Limecello and I together in the first place, so I felt this had to be here. How to describe ZHZ? It is the rise to power of a woman that really did not want to go down that path, yet fate had other plans if she wanted to survive. Oh, it’s a tragedy, I admit it. A pretty historically accurate story filled with tragedy for all those involved. As in line with the trauma of Chinese historical stories, you have those perfectly doomed loves because of family and responsibilities. Oh freaking Asian people, stop being so realistic. Also, it’s coming onto Netflix soon – abridged and changed, but oh well.

The novel was actually much more extensive and less historically accurate (not in a real historical time period), but the characters were amazing. They cut out a few of my favorite characters, but the tv show still maintained the awesomeness of most characters even if the TV show made everyone much nicer (including ZH and her sister -_-). The timeline in the novel was longer, too. *sigh* Anyways, I have a small notebook filled with thoughts and analysis for review, and then I kind of gave up. Too extensive for me to tackle right now when I can be reading something else. XP

Loving, Never Forgetting 恋恋不忘 

Another show Limecello and I obsessively emailed each other about. As with ZHZ, this was once an internet novel = published = tv drama. Also has Jerry Yan. This story…I actually think a LOT of people would love it. Secret baby style. Lol. The novel wasn’t as insane towards the end as the TV show, but hey, everyone loves to embellish and drama it out. Lol. I did like how the story showcased how it was actually difficult for a single woman to raise a child. Also, I was a little upset how the kind of just forgave the Old Dad. I actually blamed him more than I did the crazy mother.

Silent Separation // My Sunshine (何以笙簫默)

Limecello was supposed to watch this one with me… *pouts* Anyways, this novel was insanely popular. Like, batsh** in a batcave dropping all over the place crazy obsessive. The TV series really shouldn’t be so long, but TV, what can you do. This story was really a reunion love story. College sweethearts (where the girl chased the guy down! Mwahaha), the separated due to youth, miscommunication and misunderstanding. They met again when they were older and it’s about their reunion/love. Under normal circumstances, I actually do not like these types of stories, but this was one sooooooooooo good. Also, realistically the guy would be impossible to be with. Yet, as with all this author’s books, I simply adored the female protagonist. Especially when she was young, that’s like my favorite type of heroine. 😀 The TV series let her be gloomy for way too long though.

Love in the AfternoonThis author has another famous novel turned TV series that Limecello refuses to watch due to the actors/actresses. Even so, Shan Shan Come Eat still deserved an honorable mention just cuz she showcased so much food. I actually really like another book by this author that wasn’t as popular, but if I start on this author, Gu Man (顾漫), I might as well just stop writing anything else and have a party. Same could be said about the author Mo Bao Fei Bao (墨宝非宝)…sooooo we’ll just move on.

Quick honoralble mention for Wuxia authors Jin Yong and Liang Yu Sheng. I would say more, but then I’ll end up descending into a thunderstorm rant with Limecello. I prefer Lian Yu Sheng’s female protagonists and stories in general, but his stories stayed too realistic (i.e. sad endings). Jin Yong gave us mostly happy endings, but I have much complaints about his female characters. They may be smarts and almost always better than the male characters, but they still maintained too much the stereotypical limitations.

A sidenote of one way I decide how much I like the book: if the female protagonist has her own group of friends. If she does not… I have a really really hard time suspending my sense of disbelief. I mean, “When Spring Ends, I’ll See You Again” by Shu Ke (蜀客), but it only worked because of the type of world it was in: xian xia. There is a very nice and solid fanbase for Chinese translated novels, please take a look at http://www.books.shushengbar.com if you can. Or have an all-nighter binge on youtube. 😀

Anyways, let me start wrapping things up… and just because I can: Ghibli, Ghibli, Ghibli. I will forever <3

Hayao Miyazaki. Fuyumi Ono was also extremely influential for me. My biggest regret (so far) was for not ever having met Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. I hope at least be able to meet Ursula K. Le Guin.

LothaireThere are many many more wonderful authors out there and while each story I’ve read so far has brought me joy, taught me about people, and showed me more about life, I hope to continue to read for that one story embody that balance of life, humor and happiness I continue to seek. So let’s all keep reading.

I hope you enjoyed this random bit of fun and maybe get you to explore a little bit more. If nothing else, I was able to annoy Limecello with stuff she refuse to watch with me. Also, sorry for any and all spelling, grammar, or insanity.

Whew! So anyway – lots of book talk yes? 😀 And shows! Also I highly recommend both Empresses in the Palace and Loving, Never Forgetting. (Aren’t you so glad my BA in Chinese has become useful? 😉 ) And of course a number of the authors mentioned too. 😀 Thanks for sharing with us, today, Alys!

SWHM Encore: Guest Ki on Ada Lovelace

Hi friends! You’re like “whoa, what the heck, Lime, I thought we had a month off from Smithsonian Heritage Months?” And I had been all “yeah this is the close!” … But I ~changed my mind. I totally missed a message from Ki last month. (I didn’t even know she’d sent a file through Facebook – since when has that been a thing?!) So – I definitely wanted to include it, because Ada Lovelace was a badass. So everyone let’s get settled in to learn about Ada Lovelace, and thank you Ki for this lovely post! <3

Ada Lovelace

Ada

Hi y’all! I’m super grateful to be a part of this fabulous month for Women’s History.

As an amateur history buff and amateur research wonder (if that even makes sense) I like to research history and anything that relates to the Regency and Victorian era. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out to be a long research essay but brave through it with me and I hope you’ll learn something new.

As there are many famous ladies known during the Regency and Victorians (courtesans and gentlewomen of birth), there’s one that out beats them all for me, Ada Lovelace!

Of course Ada Lovelace isn’t her real name but a name given to her for her title. She would have been only a small part of history for her notorious father’s reputation but with her connections and knowledge she has made history! Despite men in the world trying to discredit both her and her work for years.

She was born Augustus Ada Gordon Byron in 1815, and then later, Lady Ada King, Countess Lovelace, (a magnificent title isn’t it!) when she married William King-Noel, the 1st Earl of Lovelace. But she’s most famously known as Ada Lovelace, or for me, Lord Byron’s daughter.

Although she’s the only legitimate child of the erratic poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, and mathematician mother Annabella Milbanke, she never met her father. Lord Byron left the country 4 months after Ada’s birth for Italy to never return. Her mother quickly requested for a legal separation from Bryon (which was unheard of and scandalous during the time) and got it approved.

Because her father was a volatile poet and a man whore shall I say in England, her mother raised Ada under a “strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.” But of course Ada was born to love numbers and even hoped to be an “analyst and metaphysician,” asking of her mother, “if you can’t give me poetry, can’t you give me ‘poetical science’?”

But what made her huge and well known was when she met Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of London, and father of the computer in 1833, at the age of 17 by introduction from Mary Sommerville, a Scottish scientist and polymathemtician herself, during a dinner party. Ada and Babbage became lifelong friends and talked about all topics of math and logic.

She became fascinated with Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and later help translate an article from Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea who supported the device and wrote an article on it by adding and extending her own research of the Engine with a better understanding of articulating Babbage’s ideas than himself.

She saw the Engine as more than a sophisticated calculator so during her research Ada wrote extensive side notes of her work “detailing how the Engine could be fed step-by-step instructions to do complicated math, and trained to work not only with numbers but also words and symbols “to [even] compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” These notes are considered to be the first descriptions of what we now call algorithms and computer programming as she even suggested for the Engine to be able to calculate Bernoulli numbers.

So she basically helped invent the mechanical calculator at the same time as creating the first computer program!

Sadly she only lived a short life and died at the age of 36 to cancer. She was buried next to her father in Italy even though she had never met him. *aww~ tears tears*

Ada’s programmes remained nothing but visions and Babbage never did see his invention come to light. In fact there were no manifestations of their machine until the mid-20th century where Alan Turing is reported to have used it as inspiration for his modern computer work.

So if it wasn’t for her work and research we would have nothing here right now on ALBTALBS.

Women power you know, we’re smart and can’t let all those men tell us we’re not.

You can read some of her article here.

So have you heard of Ada Lovelace before? Did you know there’s Ada Lovelace Day every year mid-October. (That’s all I can find – no specifics on how it’s otherwise decided, but I know this year it’s on October 13.) 🙂 You can also remember to check out the google doodle on Ada’s birthday on December 10th.
Ada Lovelace Google Doodle
What a singular woman! Thanks so much for sharing, Ki! Have you guys heard of Ada Lovelace before? Have any other women to suggest as being amazing and deserving of celebration? The field is wide open! Let’s hear it! <3

SWHM Feature: Kim Lowe

Hi friends! Yes it is another Smithsonian Heritage Month! Or, whatever. I’d link you, but the Smithsonian website is down O_o. So, if you’re interested, the Women’s History Month government page is up. You might be all “but Lime – if this has been a thing, why didn’t you celebrate it last year?” Well, two answers. I had this sneaking suspicion even in 2013 that 2014 might kick my ass. Also, because I had no idea how the Heritage Months would go and figured “well, focusing on romance is kickass enough and sufficient for ALBTALBS.” But for 2015, we’re kicking it up a notch! So without further ado … here’s Kim with her contribution!

Jacqueline Cochran standing in uniform Wikimedia CommonsMy oldest son recently wrote an essay for a scholarship offered to military dependents. The topic was unusual – discuss a woman who contribute to WWII. He wrote about Jacqueline Cochran, a trailblazing woman in military aviation. She developed an interest in flying in the early 1930s, ultimately setting speed records along with Amelia Earhart. With the arrival of WWII, she volunteered to ferry planes to Britain and advocated for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) once the US entered the war. After the war, she broke more records. From the National Aviation Hall of Fame:

  • In 1935, she became the first woman to fly in the Bendix Trophy Race, which she won in 1938.
  • In 1937, she Became the first woman to make a blind instrument landing.
  • During World War II she was the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean (leading to the WASPs).
  • In 1950, she Received the Harmon Trophy as the Aviatrix of the Decade.
  • In 1953, she became the first woman to exceed the speed of sound.
  • In 1962, she set 73 records in three years.
  • In 1964, She exceeded Mach 2 in 1964.

Cochran left a legacy of “can do” spirit, opening the doors for future generations of women in the military.

I joined the Air Force during President Reagan’s military expansion to outspend the Soviet Union. Yet women were still not welcome in all careers (and not always welcomed at all). Shortly after I transitioned from active duty to military spouse, I met a group of women who understood the challenges I faced on active duty. These women belong to the RomVets – veterans who write romance. They welcomed me into their ranks. Leading this band of sisters is Merline Lovelace, a military brat, Vietnam veteran, and retired Air Force Colonel. She commanded the 3200 Support Wing at Eglin AFB – the equivalent of winning the RITA award in Romanceland. After serving her country, she served up romance novels. Merline recently signed a three book deal which will bring her total published books to over 100. She’s a writing “ace” who has also won the RITA award. Merline never tires of encouraging writers and supporting veterans. I thank Merline for setting the bar high for other women to achieve their own success.

I am giving away military swag plus a copy of Merline’s Course of Action with Lindsay McKenna (another RomVet) to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Kim Lowe is an Air Force veteran, Air Force spouse, and romance book blogger at SOS Aloha. Contact Kim at [email protected].

So! Women’s History Month … military edition! 😀 Any other veterans out there? Do you have a favorite female veteran? Any inspiring figures for Women’s History Month? Let’s hear it! 🙂

Guest Review: A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Christina C. Jones

D.L. White’s review of A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary romance released by Christina C. Jones on September 8, 2014

A Crazy Little Thing Called LoveSimone is a woman on a mission: Stop being boring, and fall in love.
That’s easier said than done with no prospects on the table… or under the table… or near the table. Her luck changes when fellow neighborhood business owner Roman Taylor walks through the door of her flower shop.
Roman is single, successful, and sexy — everything Simone is looking for to embark on a whirlwind summer romance with the potential to spark an everlasting love.

But things are never as “perfect” as they seem, and Simone — and Roman — have to decide if they’re willing to risk their hearts when things get a little messy in their pursuit of a crazy little thing called love.

From time to time I troll social media to see what good books my favorites are talking about. If you’re a book lover, you always have your ear to the ground for what other people like and are reading… what’s new, what’s coming. I even have an addiction to NetGalley and Edelweiss because if a super awesome book is coming out soon, I want it. NOW.

It was during one of my stalk…err discovery sessions that I read about Christina Jones. I’m always on the hunt for great writers of black romance so I hit her site, read about her books and set out to grab some of her work.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Love is book one in the Serendipitous Love series (also in this series: Didn’t Mean to Love You and Fall in Love Again). The most recent book in the series was just released last month, but I’m odd about series. I don’t like coming into one in the middle if I can help it. So, if I have time, I roll back to the beginning and get to know the characters from the start.

Crazy Little Thing is set in a fictional neighborhood that is the envy of my heart: cozy little shops in a downtown enclave owned by African Americans that are mere steps from each other. All of the owners are tightly knit and watch out for each other, help each other out. Home is but a few steps away in what I imagine to be eclectic and interesting buildings. Simone runs a successful flower shop, a dream made possible by a loan from her generous friend India, who at the outset is mysteriously absent. Next door is a chocolatier, Vivienne. Down the street is a tattoo artist and across the street is Carter, the handsome, sexy barber. Simone, though, only has eyes for Roman, owner of Urban Grind, a coffee shop by day and an intimate, soulful club by night.

When the two meet, it is quite by accident. Roman and a friend happen into the flower shop on the hunt for an ‘I’m sorry I forgot your birthday’ bouquet. Roman was distractingly gorgeous and smelled strongly like coffee. He leaves with his friend, but hours later he comes back and invites her to stop into Urban Grind sometime.

And there begins a lovely romance.

Jones takes her time winding her readers through this sweet romance tinged with espresso beans and lilies. Roman and Simone move quickly from just flirting to ‘much more than friends’… more quickly than either of them are prepared for, but Simone’s motto for the year is to not be boring. Her budding romance with Roman is anything but boring. I haven’t read a book where steam rises from the pages in quite a while. The sensuality is palpable, even moreso the growing affection between the two of them, from the soft jabs to the loving declarations.

This relationship, however, has extra pieces. Like Roman’s daughter, who Simone doesn’t learn about until she’s well into like with him. And Zahra’s mother… who lives with Roman and who takes this relationship from sweet and carefree to ‘what the hell am I doing, dating a man who lives with his child and her mother?’ Simone is now dating a man with a child… is she ready for this experience? And what about Leah, the child’s mother? Does she still want Roman or is the situation as platonic as they both insist?

A quiet influence throughout the story is India, Simone’s oldest, best friend. Simone shares everything with India– her hurts and fears, her joy, her pain. Her new love Roman and the issues they encounter during their relationship. A heartbreaking loss, a few near-love affair ending incidences… India gets it all, but never responds. Not that Simone expects her to. India is in a coma, the result of a seizure while giving birth to her now two year old daughter. Waiting for her to wake up has been a daily pain that Simone has endured. Loving Roman helps to take the edge off, but when India’s condition worsens, Simone needs his comfort and strength more than ever.

Roman doesn’t know how to tell this woman that he’s deeply in love with that the night she lost her best friend, he was being seduced by his ex, the mother of his child.

A friend of mine once said, “Yes, romance is predictable. A meets B, A and B live happily ever after– that’s a given. What happens between the meeting and the happily ever after… that’s the story.” Crazy Little Thing isn’t just about A and B and the happy ending. Its not only about two obviously good looking, sexy people falling in love.

It’s also about entrepreneurs putting the most into their work and come into their own success. It is about respect of fellow human beings, dedication to relationships and sticking through a tough time with a person that you love because you love them. It’s also about growing up and out and realizing when a relationship doesn’t work anymore and when you really need to let go… and not having hard feelings about the other party moving on as well.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Love is a full tour through a relationship’s ups and downs, trials and joys. I was only sad that this book ended for a moment, because then I remembered I have two more books set in this enviable world. I’m ready to jump back in!

Grade: B

You can buy a copy here!

About: I am DL White, an avid reader, author and book blogger living in the grandest city in the south east, Atlanta! After ten years in the south, this native northwestern girl has finally got the hang of this southern thing– the tea is sweet and the fish come with grits. I have been reading and reviewing books at TheSweetEscape since 2009. I enjoy a variety of genres, but adult literary fiction, crime dramas, thrillers and romance always seem to bubble up for me. I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover, but if you hand me a book and a bag of Skittles, I’m a happy camper! My own novel, Brunch at Ruby’s is set to hit the shelves in March of 2015.