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A Clash of Kings (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 21 April 2013 00:00

It's easy to hate House Lannister.

After all, they murdered the rightful King. They throw kids off roofs. They behead main characters. They are mercenary and cunning and bad to the bone.

And now Queen Cersei has planted her slightly bastardinous (if not incestuously-created) son Joffrey on the throne.

Judging from the number of self-crowned kings that spring up (four, at least, not counting Daenerys lurking off in the east with her three dragons), I'm not alone in hating them.

Oh, we have battles galore, small skirmishes, sieges, and expeditions beyond the northern wall. We've got politics. We've got intrigue. And we've got so many characters that there are dozens and dozens of pages outlining who's who in the back. All this in a brisk 728 pages.

That explains why I'm calling in guest reviewers.

Anyway, Martin continues his usual format, a chapter for each of the half-dozen or so major characters we'll track, following displaced little princesses hiding in the scullery to short dwarfish connivers riding into battle. Usually I'll become so locked on a character that I'll groan at the end of a chapter, not wanting to leave them. But then it's on to the next, and soon I'm viewing life through a different set of eyeballs.

Gotta say I really like this, even through the book is big enough to prop a wheel if you ever need to change a tire.

>>>IF YOU LIKE YOUR FANTASIES SHORTER AND WITH A SINGULAR MAIN CHARACTER, CHECK OUT MY WORKS, HERE<<<

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 19:30
 
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Guest Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 14 April 2013 00:00

On my first day as a rocket scientist at Nasa, they jammed me into a pod with a fireball of a secretary, a wiry blonde with  a winning smile and a very sharp personality. After she marked her turf (and scared me silly), it came out that we were both writers. Lynn Perry and I have been friends ever since. So here is her take on Baroness Emmuska Orczy's classic.

I am a reader….my bulging book shelves, decades old library card and financially abused Kindle account reflect my love of books.  Most recently, I reached into history and re-read The Scarlet Pimpernel.

When I initially read the book, I was reading through the eyes of a young woman.  Although I was immediately swept into the intriguing history of France and England and the bold and beautiful characters, it was the love between the characters that my interest focused on.

Now, as an adult reading the book once again; I am reading with a broader more mature view.  Having experienced more of life’s offerings; some wonderful, others sorrowful, I enjoyed the writing of Baroness Orczy that much more. The Scarlet Pimpernel is part romance, part adventure, part spy thriller and part super-hero fiction. The book offers a combination of history lesson, a glimpse into the grandeur of the aristocracy as well as the severe restrictions and brutality of the time, but mostly the pages emphasize the depth of understand and trust.

I highly recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel to anyone that enjoys the pull of an enchanting account of how a few strongly dedicated individuals rose above corruption to make a difference and in doing so find themselves as well.

>>>AND IF YOU LIKE HISTORICAL FICTION, HAVE A LOOK AT MINE. I'VE GOT A BOATLOAD FOR SALE!<<<

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 19:12
 
Guns, Germs, and Steel (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 07 April 2013 00:00

Jared Diamond got a lot of flak for Collapse, and I got a Dale Carnegie pen for it. That's the way the world works.

For Guns, Germs, and Steel, he got a Pulitzer.

So, the basics of the book: mankind spreads outwards from Africa. One wave goes east, along the coasts of India, up the long Russian coast, over the Bering Strait and spilling over the Americas (like Sherwin Williams covers the earth). The other wave moves north and west, settling Europe (as if religious wars, strife and a crushing feudal system can be termed "settling"). In the process, we actually evolve different appearances, our color and features changing. And then, in Central America with the Spanish landings, the waves crash together.

So why did the Spanish have the guns, the germs, and the steel? Why did their Toledo blades and smallpox and crude firearms sweep away the natives with seemingly God-granted grace (and they received nothing save syphilis (probably through rapine) in return)? How come one side came to the proverbial gunfight with guns?

Diamond does a good job dispelling any racial superiority claims, looking closer at the spread of grains, the scattering of domesticatable animals, the climate, and even the positioning and layout of the continents. And in doing so, the reader hits a number of points where they are forced to nod, true I see moments.

Granted, the book is slow in a number of places where he stretches a point to seemingly fill pages. However, overall, the reader should come away from this with a better understanding of how our world was formed, in terms of its people and histories.

And, truthfully, when you're standing at the watercooler and someone (who doesn't read and can hardly follow Friends) makes a slightly simplistic statement about race, well, this book will allow you to be forewarned and forearmed. Worth a read for those history buffs out there, as well as anyone else who wants to know the 'why' of things.

>>>AND IF YOU WANT TO SEE A SMALLER CHUNK OF ANCIENT HISTORY, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN 330BC ALONG THE PERSIAN COAST IN "EARLY RETYREMENT"<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 09:29
 
Fall of Giants / Winter of the World (Guest review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 31 March 2013 00:00

Another guest review by my dear ol' da. I'm stuck in the second book of the Thrones (why do I keep reading gigantic monster books?) So I'll keep bringing in guests (and writing about old favorites) until I can get caught up. But anyway, here's another book review for you...

The first two books of a planned trilogy that covers the first half of the 20th century. This twofer follows the members of five separate families (English, Welsh, Russian, German, and American)  as they experience love, wars, depression, revolution, and all the political currents that ran through this period. I have always found this particular period of history to be a most attractive setting for a broad historical treatment.  Follett has obviously researched deeply this era and takes you into the heads and various motives of all his characters.

Follett intertwines the lives of his principal characters and causes them to intersect at many points.  If the reader can accept the occasional coincidence that is a “bit much” then the books are a good read.  Each book is fairly long but each book is a complete story in itself and can be read without constant reference to the other one.

I have always had a soft spot for the well written family saga and here the author gives you the stories of five families which are all represented by the author’s many different voices, class prejudices, and political beliefs. He is especially strong in writing of the time between the wars when the National Socialists arose in Germany, England slept, and war was tested in Spain.

Also by Ken Follett: Pillars of the Earth.

>>>AND IF YOU LIKE A HISTORIC SAGA WITH ONE FAMILY (HELL, ONE GUY!) CHECK OUT "EARLY RETYREMENT"<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 09:37
 
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