Book review: Whisper of the Moon Moth by Jayne Ashford

  • Title and author:  Whisper of the Moon Moth by Jayne Ashford
  • Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
  • Date released:  October 1, 2017
  • Pages:  352
  • Genre:  Biographical | historical fiction

SYNOPSIS:

For nineteen-year-old Estelle Thompson, going to the cinema is more than a way to pass the time…it’s a way out. In 1931 in Calcutta, Anglo-Indian girls like Estelle are considered half-breeds, shunned by both English and Indian society. Her only escape is through the silver screen, where she can forget the world around her.

When Estelle catches the eye of a dashing American heir with connections to a major motion-picture studio, he also captures her heart. Soon, Estelle has a one-way ticket to London and a recommendation for a screen test.

To get to the top, she must keep her Indian heritage concealed—and so begins her new identity as movie goddess Merle Oberon. But just as her dreams are poised to come true, she discovers that her own family is keeping a much more shocking secret from her—one that changes everything she’s believed about her past.

Buy the book:   Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Audible

Meet the author:  Raised in Wolverhampton, UK, Lindsay Jayne Ashford became the first woman to graduate from Queens’ College, Cambridge in its 550 year history. She gained a degree in Criminology and was employed as a reporter for the BBC before becoming a freelance journalist, writing for a number of national magazines and newspapers.

Lindsay began her career as a novelist with a contemporary crime series featuring forensic psychologist Megan Rhys. She moved into the historical genre with ‘The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen’, and her two most recent books, ‘The Color of Secrets’ and ‘The Woman on the Orient Express’ blend real events with fiction and are set in the first half of the twentieth century.  She has four children and divides her time between a house overlooking the sea on the west coast of Wales and a small farmhouse in Spain’s Sierra de Los Filabres. When she is not writing she is a volunteer with the charity Save the Children. She also enjoys kayaking and walking her dog – a Border Terrier.

Connect with the author:   Amazon author profile

MY REVIEW:

An absorbing fictional and biographical account about Merle Oberon (formerly Estelle Thompson) who had to hide her Anglo-Indian ancestry in order to break into the narrow-minded and bigoted film industry in England and then later Hollywood. Not a completely accurate account, the author describes the fictional liberties she took with both Merle and the other characters in the book.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the book was entertaining and had me constantly googling the characters and places that were mentioned in the book and I was able to sort out fiction from fact.

A fun read for anyone who loves Hollywood stories with a bit of fantasy and intrigue thrown in.

Book spotlight: Life Outside the Box: The Extraordinary Journeys of 10 Unique Individuals, Second Edition by Marilyn R. Wilson

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Book Details:

Book Title: Life Outside the Box: The Extraordinary Journeys of 10 Unique Individuals, Second Edition
Author: Marilyn R. Wilson
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 236 pages
Genre:  Inspiration / biography / fashion
Publisher:  Real People Real Lives Press
Release date:  Oct 27, 2016
Tour dates:  Dec 5 to 23, 2016
Content Rating:  G

Book Description:  

This second edition offers new content added to each and every chapter – personal author reflections from behind the scenes.

Get inspired to step out of your box and embrace your potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised, the message is clear: there is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from over a hundred interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own paths, including Ruthie Davis–top US luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award; and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World, and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals have chosen to deal with life’s challenges and how they define success in their careers.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble

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Meet the author:

Marilyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer and speaker with a passion for interviewing. Her career as a writer began in an unusual way, by answering a Craigslist ad. It was while conducting her first interview the world shifted – she had found her passion. Since 2006, she has interviewed over 150 people from as near as her hometown of Vancouver, Canada, and as far away as South Africa.

Whether through a random encounter on the New York subway or via a one-on-one interview with an internationally recognized artist, the goal is the same-to give wings to the unique journeys of inspiring individuals. This goal first led the author to co-launch a successful, innovative magazine focused on professionals working in the fashion industry paired with photography and illustrations by local artists. Then in 2015, Wilson took her passion to a new audience with the release of her first book, the first in a series featuring the lives of real people living real lives.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~ Instagram

SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

Dec 5 –   Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 6 –   Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Dec 7 –   Books, Dreams, Life – book spotlight /
Dec 8 –   Bound 2 Escape – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 9 –   The Irresponsible Reader – book spotlight / author interview
Dec 12 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – book spotlight / guest post
Dec 13 – 100 Pages A Day – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Dec 14 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 15 – The Autistic Gamer – book spotlight
Dec 16 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / guest post
Dec 19 – Laura’s Interests – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Dec 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy , + Sissy, Too! – spotlight / giveaway
Dec 20 – Deal Sharing Aunt – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 21 – Jessica Cassidy – book spotlight
Dec 22 – T’s Stuff – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Dec 23 – Books for Books – book spotlight

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Book review / guest post / giveaway: KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Biography / true crime
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  February 2016
Available for review in:  Print,  PDF
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates:  May 2 – 13, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)

Book Description:  

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.

Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George’s feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.

Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.

Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.

Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly’s son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, Kathryn Kelly ¬The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Barbara Casey

 Meet the author:  

Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:   Website

GUEST POST:
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KATHRYN KELLY and the “Trial of the Century” by Barbara Casey

Several years ago, thousands of our citizens shivered in fear of a kidnapper whose name had much to do with the terror he engendered: he was called Machine Gun Kelly. However, there was someone far more dangerous than Machine Gun Kelly. That was Machine Gun Kelly’s wife.

J. Edgar Hoover, 1938, Persons in Hiding

In Oklahoma City, the case was being tried in the building that housed the post office, federal offices, and courthouse. Surrounded by armed officers, entry into the courtroom was allowed only with a pass after taking an elevator to the seventh floor and then climbing two flights of stairs to the ninth floor. In addition, everyone was required to be “patted down.” Inside, there wasn’t an empty seat available, the “electric air charged with excitement,” as it was reported on film. It was the first time movie equipment with sound had been permitted in a federal courtroom.

There were other “firsts” as well. It was the first kidnapping trial after the passage of the “Lindbergh Law,” making kidnapping a federal crime. It was the first major case solved by J. Edgar Hoover’s evolving and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the first crime in which defendants were transported by airplane. And, at the time, it was the largest ransom ever paid—two hundred thousand dollars, the equivalent of about three million dollars in today’s currency. The date was October 12, 1933, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, were on trial for the kidnapping of wealthy Oklahoma City oil man, Charles F. Urschel.

From the old photographs and film footage that have survived, George appears uneasy and sullen, wearing a dark suit, silk tie, and white shirt; and even though smoking was forbidden in the courtroom, cameramen captured him smoking several cigarettes. The facial cuts and large bump on the side of his head that he had received from federal agent J. C. White two days earlier are also visible.

Kathryn seems to have enjoyed the attention as she fluffs her hair and smiles confidently into the flashing and whirring cameras and posing for newsreel cameramen from Fox, Paramount, and other agencies that had followed them to Oklahoma City from Memphis where they were arrested. Fashionably dressed in high heels, a black satin dress decorated with feather epaulettes, and a hat perched jauntily on one side of her head, the members of the press and spectators alike were captivated by this tall, attractive, green-eyed brunette.

Many brought their lunch so as not to lose their seats. Some members of the press noted the “Roman holiday” atmosphere. Everyone watched as Kathryn and her husband, the notorious Machine Gun Kelly, awaited their much-anticipated verdicts.

REVIEW:

Moll:  noun,  Slang.
1.   a female companion of a criminal.
2.  a female criminal
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Who likes a good gangster movie?  Then this book is just for you. Kathryn Kelly:  The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly recounts the tumultuous activities of Kathryn and George Kelly as they rise from petty crime, bootlegging, bank robberies and eventually into kidnapping.  Both were raised during the 30’s when poverty was rampant and prohibition was spawning bootleggers all over the country.

The book reveals much about Kathryn’s personality – from her upbringing in a poor farming family to a swanky and confident woman enjoying the good life of travel, furs, jewellery and cars – and always one step ahead of the law.
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Calculating and intelligent, she falls for George Kelly, a criminal with a larger-than-life reputation.  Kathryn’s manipulation of the media increases her husband’s notoriety.  They are untouchable.  Or so they think.
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I enjoy history and followed their stories with interest.  The many photographs and excerpts of documentation written by Kathryn added much to the story and I was amused by the expressions used during the time.  My father read the book as well and told me how much he enjoyed it.
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This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a daring and ambitious woman during the depression.  Even if you aren’t a history buff, I’m sure you will find it fascinating.
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