Two Tickets to China, Please…. - The Melting Pot
Happy New Year!! Now is the time for reflection and new beginnings. Though our New Year has already started, the Chinese New Year falls on February 19th this year. According to the Chinese Horoscope, 2015 is the year of the sheep (goat or ram).
In honor of our New Year and the pending Chinese New Year, let’s add some ginger and star anise to the melting pot!
I love it when a book explores hidden histories. I knew that Shanghai was a hotbed for jazz, however I hadn’t thought about the lives of the African-American musicians recruited to move to China to perform. Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones skillfully tackles the swirl of emotions, cultural clashes, and shifting political atmospheres to craft a wonderfully engaging and insightful novel.
Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones
In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money, pleasure and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war.
Song Yuhua is refined and educated, and has been bonded since age eighteen to Shanghai's most powerful crime boss in payment for her father's gambling debts. Outwardly submissive, she burns with rage and risks her life spying on her master for the Communist Party.
Only when Shanghai is shattered by the Japanese invasion do Song and Thomas find their way to each other. Though their union is forbidden, neither can back down from it in the turbulent years of occupation and resistance that follow. Torn between music and survival, freedom and commitment, love and world war, they are borne on an irresistible riff of melody and improvisation to Night in Shanghai's final, impossible choice.
In this stunningly researched novel, Nicole Mones not only tells the forgotten story of black musicians in the Chinese jazz age, but also weaves in a startling true tale of Holocaust heroism little-known in the West.
Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin is Chinese Steampunk at its best! I’m a sucker for a strong female lead character with science and engineering skills. The heroine, Jin Soling, fits the bill. With her needle gun, she conquers her fears and jumps into the fray to find and defend her family. Ms. Lin’s use of acupuncture needles to access qi energy to power mechanical arms and legs is beyond creative…it’s brilliant! This book is the first book in a series. I am looking forward to savoring each book. If ‘steampunk’ really isn’t your thing, then pick up this novel for its rich depiction of life in the Qing Dynasty.
Gunpower Alchemy by Jeannie Lin
In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…
Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.
Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.
But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband…
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.