Why Poppies Appear on Veteran’s Day

Honoring All Who Served

November 11th is Veteran’s Day in the US, but some Americans may not know that it was originally called Armistice Day and celebrated the end of WWI. Hostilities of World War One, also known as the Great War, ended on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1954, the US changed the name of the holiday to Veteran’s Day.

The difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is the former began in 1865 to honor the fallen of the Civil War, and later the fallen of all our wars. Veterans Day honors our vets, whether living or dead.

Poppies are handed out by veterans on Nov. 11. The fallen of World War One were buried where they died in France and Belgium, on muddy battlefields. Later poppies grew in these fields and became associated with the holiday.

Canadian soldier, John McCrae, wrote a famous poem entitled “In Flanders Fields” which he discarded due to dissatisfaction with what he wrote. His friends saved the poem and later that year it was published in the British Punch. This photo shows the entire poem.

In Flanders Fields poem

Inscription of the complete poem in a bronze book at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario. Photo by Lx 121 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8455795

I’m glad his friends recognized the worth of the poem.

My father and brother both served proudly in the US Air Force. I’ll be thinking about my dad today.

Happy Veteran’s Day!


Book Review Club: The Vine Witch #fantasy #romance

Once a year my reading group schedules a topic we call either Reading Surprise or Zen Reading. The idea is to pick up a book and start reading, without having read the description on the back cover (or website). If you’re lucky, what you find in the pages of the book is a nice surprise.

I tried and eliminated half a dozen books before I found The Vine Witch through Amazon’s Kindle First program for Prime members. The cover and title immediately caught my eye, so I grabbed a copy. All I knew about it was that Amazon had characterized it as Fantasy. To my delight, it turned out to be romantic fantasy.

The Vine Witch cover
The Vine Witch
by Luanne G. Smith
Debut Novel
47 North, 2019

In Smith’s fantasy version of early 20th c. France, all vineyards have vine witches, who use their skills to create a better vintage.

The book starts with the protagonist, Elena, trapped by a curse in a frog’s body. Every time the frog sheds it’s skin, she swallows the skin. She doesn’t remember much about being a human, but she knows the frog’s skin is poisonous. This time the poison hits critical mass and the curse is broken.

She returns home, planning to exact vengeance on her former fiance whom she believes ordered the curse on her. But everything has changed. Her mentor, an older woman, has sold the vineyard to an outsider, a young lawyer from Paris who wants to be a great vintner. Jean-Paul is a believer in law and science, so she has to hide her witchy abilities.

She’s also dismayed by the shape the vineyards are in. Someone has clearly cursed them as well. She goes about undoing the damage, trying to stay off Jean-Paul’s radar.

Her former fiance has since married a blond bier hexe from the northern lands (Germany, presumably) and has prospered mightily, buying up many of the local wineries when their grapes start to sour. Elena knows he is behind the damage to the Chateau Renard vineyard, as well.

Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Elena ends up accused of murder. Jean-Paul who has fallen in love with her tries to free her, only to end up in danger to himself.

This book was a lovely surprise. I found the world-building intriguing and the characters engaging, esp. Yvette, Elena’s felonious but charming partner in crime. (We don’t meet her until well into the book.) The writing is good, and there was the nice bonus of a romance subplot between Elena and Jean-Paul. Recommended for lovers or fantasy or paranormal romance.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

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