Another fascinating historical novel from Isabel Allende. Set in 16th century Peru and Chile, Inez is the lover of one and the husband of another adve...moreAnother fascinating historical novel from Isabel Allende. Set in 16th century Peru and Chile, Inez is the lover of one and the husband of another adventurer/conquerer of Peru and Chile. A little more rigidly structured than Daughter of Fortune--In(less)
Ninth book in the Father Tim Kavanaugh of Mitford, NC series.
Karon wraps it all up in this last book in the Mitford series. Father Tim and Cynthia fin...moreNinth book in the Father Tim Kavanaugh of Mitford, NC series.
Karon wraps it all up in this last book in the Mitford series. Father Tim and Cynthia finalize their plans for retirement, the multiple ongoing story threads are resolved, Dooley and Lace mature, mysteries are brought to light, Father Tim’s old nemesis reappears in a surprising way, and the book ends in an satisfying if improbable way. Life moves on.
What I find remarkable about this series is what appears to be Karon's attitude toward Mitford and its people. No such town has ever existed, and she is not recommending that we search for it. But what seems to me is that instead--and it is the real power behind this series--she is presenting what could be, a role model for living, so to speak. And that is its charm. The old, seductive “If we just (you fill in the blanks), life would be so much better.” Her fill-in-the-blanks is a model of Christian living, an ideal to strive for with all our human failings.
One does not have to buy into this particular model to appreciate the fine writing, the charm of the characters, the cherishing of everyday living and dying, and the sincerity that permeates the books. There is nothing banal about this series. It is a point of view that is very well presented in an entertaining fashion. Can’t ask for much more than that.
1st in the Charlie Fox series.[return][return]The protagonist is a 26 year old woman who is ex-British Army and who has agreed to join the protection...more1st in the Charlie Fox series.[return][return]The protagonist is a 26 year old woman who is ex-British Army and who has agreed to join the protection agency run by her former lover. She takes a job in the US to serve as bodyguard for a spoiled teen-aged son of a supposed computer programming whiz.[return][return]The premise of the series� protagonist is very good, and the story has definite promise. Also, part of the setting for the action, which is nicely non-stop, is the Spring Break Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida--exotic and fun. The plotting is good if not outstanding.[return][return]The problem with the book is the writing, which barely makes it above mediocre. It gets in the way of what could have been some interesting characters� teenagers. But Sharp's descriptive skills are not up to making these kids real. Her charge, in particular, is so sadly drawn that you wind up feeling sorry for him because Sharp is so limited in understanding and writing ability. The emotional connection between Charlie and her ex-lover Sean is written so badly that you wince every time it comes up, and start wishing for blood, guts and bodies so that you can wipe out the memory of the � romance� .[return][return]Too bad, because, again, the premise is intriguing. But it� s not a series in which I� ll read further.(less)
Tennessee was a critical state for both sides during the Civil War. There was plenty of Unionist sentiment in East Tennessee, although those who were...moreTennessee was a critical state for both sides during the Civil War. There was plenty of Unionist sentiment in East Tennessee, although those who were loyal suffered under a secessionist state government. Lincoln was anxious to aid them, and therefore was always eager to have a Union Army � liberate� the state, particularly that section.[return][return]For the Confederates, Tennessee was the doorway to the inner Confederacy; Chattanooga in particular was the jumping off point for the Confederate heartland in Georgia And Alabama.[return][return]Two armies contested the ownership of Tennessee: The Union Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General William S. Rosencrans and the Army of the Tennessee under the questionable leadership of Braxton Bragg. These two armies skirmished a number of times, but in late 1862 and during 1863, the two armies fought 3 major battles that were critical to the war; Stone� s River (Murfreesboro), Chickamauga), and Chattanooga.[return][return]The first at Stones� River took place From December 31, 1962 to January 4, 1863. Nearly Union disaster, it ended technically and emotionally a Union victory, since Bragg retreated from the field. But despite Bragg� s weaknesses as a field commander, it was a close thing.[return][return]Cozzens book is well written. He clearly and in great detail describes the personalities of the generals commanding, the events that led up to the battle, command decisions, the enormous problems that Bragg had with his subordinates, especially Polk, and goes into great detail on troop movements.[return][return]Yet, this is a bad book. Why? The maps. Or, I should say, the lack of maps.[return][return]Cozzens goes into great detail about the fighting that occurred on December 31, when the Confederates nearly drove the Union Army into the Tennessee River. We read about movements of regiments and detachments of regiments; brigades; divisions. But there is almost no way to follow all this detail, since maps for the time frame between about 9 am and 3 pm are nowhere to be found. Here and there are maps of tiny segments of the battlefield that were bewildering, because it was impossible to relate that area of the battlefield to any other area. Mention is made of fighting occurring, for example, around the Widow Burris� house, but trying to locate that house on any of the relevant maps was impossible. for the most part, I was flipping back and forth between a map of the overall area of the battlefield and the position of the two armies on the eve of the battle on pages 74-75 and some of the detail maps, trying to get some idea of where the action occurred.[return][return]In addition, the detail maps have no distance scale! I� ve never ever read a Civil War military history in which the maps gave you no idea of the distances involved. For all the reader knows, the units depicted could be 10 miles or 100 ft. apart--there is no way of knowing from the map.[return][return]Somewhat more minor but still extremely annoying is the way the Order of Battle is presented. For some baffling reason, Cozzens chooses to call them The Opposing Forces instead of the more tradition Order of Battle (OOB). Minor detail, but the presentation is not. The OOB is arranged in the traditional hierarchy: General commanding, then Corps, Corps commander, followed by each division, it� s head, and the brigades that compose the division and their heads and component regiments. Standard and a valuable part of any military history if the reader wants to have a prayer of keeping the units and their commanders straight; it� s the classic case of you can� t tell the players without a score card. Unless you have a phenomenal memory, there is no other way to determine whose brigade was doing what when.[return][return]But the format--the font and font size--are identical for all levels of hierarchy and there is no distance or other demarcation that makes it easy to distinguish division from brigade. I spent too much time trying to locate individual units from the names of their commanders in the truly confusing OOB.[return][return]I don� t feel as if I read this book in vain; I learned a good deal and came away with an appreciation of Rosencrans and even Sheridan, whom I have always viewed as little more than a thug in a uniform. The maps of the latter part of the battle were better and I now feel I have a really good idea of how the Union artillery under Mendenhall shredded the Confederate infantry and saved the Union left. However, I� m going to have to reread the book with a better set of maps from somewhere in order to truly understand what happened in the middle of the New Year� s Eve battle.[return][return]How this book was selected as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection is beyond me. The text is good enough to engage the average reader who wants to learn a little more detail about what is not the most promoted battle of the Civil War. But without adequate maps, it seems to me that it would only turn the casual reader off reading any more on the Civil War.[return][return]Avoid unless you have a set of good maps from another source. A general map of the battle won� t serve.(less)
As far as I'm concerned, this is not a book to "start" or "finish"; I read rather selectively, as I come across references to or quotes from Lincoln's...moreAs far as I'm concerned, this is not a book to "start" or "finish"; I read rather selectively, as I come across references to or quotes from Lincoln's early speeches and letters. Reading the entire speech or letter is very well worth while rather than just depending on a memorable quote such as the one for "a house divided against itself". Lincoln was an excellent writer, who worked hard on his speeches, and it shows.[return][return]This volume is a collection of speeches and letters from the 26 years before Lincoln became President, and clearly illuminates the evolution of his thinking as well as showing a core consistency in his philosophy. Highly recommended.[return][return]The Library of America edition is a beautiful one.(less)
No. 19 in the Richard Sharpe series.[return][return]I simply don� t know how Cornwell does it. He manages to turn out book after book in this series o...moreNo. 19 in the Richard Sharpe series.[return][return]I simply don� t know how Cornwell does it. He manages to turn out book after book in this series of consistently excellent quality, with taut writing, interesting characters, and page-turning plots. Sharpe� s Revenge is no different.[return][return]Napoleon� s defeat seems imminent, but, Sharpe has more personal concerns; the book opens with what turns out to be a hilarious duel (in its outcome) between Sharpe and Captain Bampfylde, the leader of the combined Army-Navy expedition that was the core of the plot to the previous book, Sharpe� s Siege. [return][return]Meanwhile, Sharpe� s French nemesis, Major Ducos, ever politically astute, ahs decided that the emperor can� t win� and so he absconds with Napoleon� s personal treasure, cleverly laying a false trail of evidence that leads back to Sharpe. Sharpe, arrested for the crime, escapes to track down the real thieves and come to a personal reckoning with Ducos.[return][return]As usual, Cornwell captures the sense of the era. As he writes in the Historical Note, Wellington� s army was the finest Britain has ever had; in 1814, after Napoleon� s surrender, that army was dispersed to outposts around the world. Many of the soldiers had taken Spanish and Portuguese wives, but were unable to bring their families back with them to England, causing enormous suffering for the women and children who were left behind. Cornwell does a good job of seamlessly interweaving this bit of human interest into the story.[return][return]His greatest strengths, however, are in his battle descriptions, and in this book, we� re treated to two; the battle of Toulouse and Sharpe� s last encounter with Ducos.[return][return]Oh, yes, Sharpe� s romantic life� not the strong point of his character. There� s an interesting and ironic development along those lines as well. This aspect of Sharpe� s career has not been and is not now the highlight of the series but it� s there and in this book, it� s a nice twist.[return][return]Cornwell has no peer in this genre. Another truly outstanding book in the series.[return][return]Highly recommended.(less)
15th in the Richard Sharpe series.[return][return]Although late in the chronological sequence, this book is one of the earliest that Cornwell wrote. L...more15th in the Richard Sharpe series.[return][return]Although late in the chronological sequence, this book is one of the earliest that Cornwell wrote. Like any good writer, he learned and improved as he went along. Sharpe� s Enemy, however, does bear something of a burden from being one of the early ones, because as in one or two other early books, Cornwell has a bit of a difficult time getting the action off the ground smoothly.[return][return]However, the book suffers only from comparison with later ones that come earlier in the chronology. It� s still a whacking good action-adventure story, and Cornwell has no peer, now or then, in writing battle scenes.[return][return]Unlike all the other books that precede it, Sharpe� s Enemy is not based on a real battle. In his Historical Note, Cornwell explains that he wanted to write one story that would reflect the last winter before Wellington started his ultimately victorious march that would end up at Waterloo.[return][return]There are a few interesting historical facts. One is the introduction of Congreve� s Rocket System, somewhat earlier than actually occurred, but still sticking to historical fact as to their deployment. The other is that there did exist a band of deserters from all the major armies� British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese� that terrorized a large part of southern Spain.[return][return]What makes this book special is that Cornwell devotes just about 2/3 of the story to this fictitious defense of a fortified pass in southern Spain, Liberated from the necessities of following history as far as a battle is concerned, Cornwell, turns his truly impressive descriptive powers to an imaginary engagement in which Sharpe battles not only the French but his arch-enemy, Obadiah Hakeswell. The result is yet another fantastic installment in a terrific series.[return][return]Highly recommended.(less)