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The Murmurs by Michael J Malone #Review #Giveaway

  I am delighted to be on another great Orenda tour to celebrate Michael J Malone's gothic thriller , The Murmurs . There is also the chance to win a print copy (UK only). Details on how to enter are at the foot of this post.    In the beginning there was fear. White-hot, nerve-shredding fear. Terrifying premonitions of deaths. And then they started… The Murmurs… On the first morning of her new job at Heartfield House, a care home for the elderly, Annie Jackson wakens from a terrifying dream. And when she arrives at the home, she knows that the first old man she meets is going to die. How she knows this is a terrifying mystery, but it is the start of horrifying premonitions … a rekindling of the curse that has trickled through generations of women in her family – a wicked gift known only as 'the murmurs'… With its reappearance comes an old, forgotten fear that is about to grip Annie Jackson. And this time, it will never let go… A compulsive gothic thriller and a

Nobody's Heroes by Steven Jacon #AuthorPost #Review @sdjacob30 @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

 I an thrilled to introduce Nobody's Heroes to the blog today. Author Steven Jacob has written a special guest post for us which tells us about a real life figure, James Reese Europe, who he featured in his novel. Set towards the end of the First World War and just after, it casts a fascinating light on the experiences of a regiment of black American soldiers.

 Reuben Ayers in on the come-up. He makes a deal with Tammany Hall to spy on the African American regiment out of Harlem during World War I. As he works his way into the regiment, befriending Jim Europe, bandleader; and his friend Noble Sissle, he begins to understand the power of altruism. Though too late he realizes that he has sacrificed too much for the wrong thing.

In an effort to repent his betrayal of his people, he sets out on a quest to save the child he did not know he had and to repair the relationships that he sundered during his climb to the political heights. Only through his friendships forged on the battlefield is he able to come to the conclusion that his fight must change if he is to save his soul.

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Steven. Now, it's over to you! 

Thank you for participating in the blog tour for my novel Nobody's Heroes. I asked specifically to write this blog post myself as it is the 140th anniversary of James Reese Europe's birth. Why this is important will become evident in a moment.

When I was researching the novel that eventually became Nobody's Heroes, I was interested in the black experience during World War I. In reading about the few black regiments who actually saw service on the front the 369th out of New York was predominant. Not only was it the most respected and successful black regiment during the war but it also had the best regimental band in the Army.

I grabbed hold of that idea. I learned about James Reese Europe. I learned that he was one of the forerunners of jazz band leaders during the transition from Ragtime to Jazz in the early 19teens. He was bandleader for several traveling shows, pioneer in black music in New York. 

In 1912, Europe organized and conducted the first all black orchestra performing all black music in Carnegie Hall. He organized the Clef Club which was the first professional organization for black musicians in New York and served as a hiring venue for the increasingly popular black music of the era. 

He broke the color wall with the musician's local and was the leading figure in band music in Harlem. During the height of his popularity he would lead orchestras all over New York, hopping from one venue to another so the club or dance hall could claim to have a Clef Club Orchestra conducted by Jim Europe. 

In 1917 when the United States entered the war and Harlem declared it was raising a regiment of volunteers he signed up. It was important that well reputed men joined the regiment rather than the bottom feeders normally attracted to the possibility of lucre. A regiment meant race improvement. It meant an armory and training, education for the black youth of the city. It was a positive development and Europe—in his efforts to lead through example—declared this to everyone he knew.

Commanding officer of the regiment recruited him to lead the regiment's band and raised ten thousand dollars to support it so he could hire professional musicians. Larger than regulation numbers, the band was key to recruitment and morale. It played the regiment through the streets of Manhattan, to training in South Carolina—where it almost revolted against Jim Crow—to the rainy streets of France. 

For two months it served as premier entertainment at the United States relief center in Aix-les-Bains. Only then was it allowed to join the rest of the regiment on the front lines in eastern France. There Europe became the first black officer to enter No-Man's-Land. He served as lieutenant of the machine gun battalion and was eventually invalided to Paris because of gas inhalation. 

There he led the regimental band in a command performance, touring Paris and France, sharing this new found black music called Jazz. By the end of the war and the regiment's return to New York he was the ultimate band leader and could write his own ticket. He decided to take the regimental band on a tour of the country and in the spring of 1919 set out to tour the south, the midwest, and the northeast. 

In Boston we learn why no one knows his name today. He was stabbed in the neck by an arguable insane drummer who didn't like the discipline that Europe enforced on the band. The injury resulted in his death from blood loss. He received a public funeral in Harlem where the young Paul Robeson sang and thousands of people turned out to mourn the civic and artistic light. 

After learning about Jim Europe's life, I knew I had to tell his story, but I didn't feel I could just tell the story without a fictional element, so I imagined my way into the 269th and Europe's life through my main character, Reuben Ayers. I would tell the story of Jim Europe through his eyes. I would let the world know about this black legend who no one knows. 

Europe's life, in large measure, was the guiding light and the reason I wrote Nobody's Heroes. I hope you enjoy reading it and learning about the courageous African-American soldiers who fought in World War I to bring civil rights to their people—though that struggle would take another half century to fruition—and how Jim Europe used his talents to cross the color-line and draw the races closer together through music.  

My Thoughts

About the Author

  This is such an interesting period of history and I found that the American angle gave it just another frisson. It is shocking to remember how the divisions between the races played out at the beginning of the period and it is difficult to read about the end of the First World War through the prism of the 2020's. You are immediately thrust into a world where human beings are measured differently and it is hard to reckon this against a more modern perspective. However, it is valuable to realise that once, people were valued according to the colour of their skin.

    I found this to be a shocking look at how people were valued. However, I realise that at the same time, everyone has their faults. This is a story which captures the spirit of the time and which shows the human face behind war.  

 In short:  A look at life without pretension or artifice.

Steven Jacob has been writing fiction since he was in the second grade. He earned a B.A. in History from Utah State University and a J.D. in law from Santa Clara University. He has worked as an international corporate attorney for the last ten years. 

Earlier this year he independently published a historical fiction novel, Nobody’s Heroes, about the black regiment out of Harlem during World War I, though he has not been given access to sales figures yet. As a gay man with mental illness, he is intensely interested in the stories of minority peoples and their struggles to fight against oppression. 

While researching To Save My People he lived in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area where he had access to research and resources related to the history described in the novel. He has also spent thousands of dollars in shipping to get the secondary sources he needed to research his novel to his home in Vietnam. 

He is also working on a non-fiction book about the Cherokee’s modern history using online resources. He tries to write some non-fiction based on his fiction projects to get double use from the research. He has published several legal articles and some freelance articles in magazines in Southeast Asia. An article based on events in his previous novel is scheduled to appear in the inaugural issue of Variety Pack, an online journal. 

Twitter: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Purchase Links:
Amazon US |Amazon UK | Blackwells Waterstones | Barnes & Noble

Thanks to Steven Jacob and the publishers for a copy of the book and a place on the tour. 

Follow the rest of the tour! 



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