Michael Kranish's "Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War" he takes a slightly different approach to one of the most important people in VirgMichael Kranish's "Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War" he takes a slightly different approach to one of the most important people in Virginia during the Revolutionary War & US history by examining in detail the events in Thomas Jefferson's life during that time frame. With a decent amount of detail, Kranish puts we the reader back into the mid-1770s & beyond as he tells of the events of Jefferson's time as governor of Virginia & the exact fears of the colonists at the time. Each chapter moves us forward in time & gives you a good feel for what life would've been like during that era & also gives us an insight into Jefferson himself that isn't seen all that often. Jefferson & the other leaders of that time are humanized in a way that is very nice to see as he reminds us that they were fallible people & put their lives at great risk. The inevitable flight from Monticello happens near the end as Jefferson continues to fear for his live to avoid becoming the most prized British POW of the war. The book is a must read for anyone with an interest not only in the man who would become the 3rd president of the US & is also the author of the Declaration of the Independence but for anyone with an interest in the Revolutionary War itself. ...more
In "Great Battles of the Civil War", Swafford Johnson does something a little different in his telling of the Civil War. He splits the book into 2 pieIn "Great Battles of the Civil War", Swafford Johnson does something a little different in his telling of the Civil War. He splits the book into 2 pieces - one half dealing with the southern victories & the other dealing with those in the north. It is this division that makes this book far different than anything I've read so far. In covering the Confederacy, he covers the battles of Manassas (First & Second), Jackson's valley campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, & Chickamunga. On the US side, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Sherman's march to the sea & Petersburg are covered. In each chapter, Johnson goes through the major details of each of these important battles as well as filling in blanks in that either follow or precede these battles. While Johnson does a very good job explaining the battles individually, it's the split in the book that hurts the book as well as the somewhat gaps in history as well. Don't get me wrong, the South did win most of their major battles before Gettysburg & Vicksburg so a book written in this way makes sense, but it's because of Chickamunga that makes this idea a bit untenable. Overall though, despite a font that needs a magnifying class at times this is still a book that is well worth picking up even for the casual history buff looking for a quick overview of the important battles of the Civil War....more
In "Red Moon at Sharpsburg", Rosemary Wells tells the story of India Moody & the ordeal her family would go through in their lives in Northern VirIn "Red Moon at Sharpsburg", Rosemary Wells tells the story of India Moody & the ordeal her family would go through in their lives in Northern Virginia during the Civil War. The book itself is set in Berryville, VA in the Shenandoah Valley & starts off the vents just after First Manassas when the war was still new & the Confederacy was convinced this was their war to win. Across the months, weeks & years to follow we follow India & her family as the war hits home from her father going off to war as well as her teacher Emory. Additionally Wells takes us to Sharpsburg & the Battle of Antietam where India gets a firsthand look at the aftermath of war in an attempt to find her father. The book is historically accurate & the emotions in the book are raw as you feel for the Moody family & everyone else in this book as the characters are taken straight out of history. India herself fits into the period as a young Confederate girl who also dreams of something greater. Across 200+ pages & 4 years of war, Wells reminds us of the travails that every family both North & South faced in the Civil War in a book that may be one of the best I've read this year....more
The debut novel in Laurie Cass's "Bookmobile Cat Mystery" series, "Lending a Paw" is the story of library Minnie who in Chilson, MI ends up running thThe debut novel in Laurie Cass's "Bookmobile Cat Mystery" series, "Lending a Paw" is the story of library Minnie who in Chilson, MI ends up running the local bookmobile for the library. While en route home she ends up being followed home by a stray cat she names Eddie. On one of the runs of the bookmobile, Eddie leads Minnie to the body of Stan Larrabee & a decent mystery ensues. Cass actually takes her time in developing the back story for everyone in the town & does a decent job with character development. Eddie is a complete treat especially when he is first discovered aboard the bookmobile. The story itself is full of enough twists & turns to keep you guessing until the end. This series is another welcome edition to the cozy cat genre of mysteries & I the reader am looking forward to more....more
The 3rd book in Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series, "Words with Fiends" is not only a clever play on the popular word game by Zynga butThe 3rd book in Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series, "Words with Fiends" is not only a clever play on the popular word game by Zynga but is also a clever mystery involving our sleuth Darla Pettistone & her cat Hamlet. In this edition, Darla is enrolled in karate & when her sensei comes up dead the usual round of questions ensue as things become pretty obvious eventually that this was murder. Hamlet is in a funk and Darla has him meeting with Brody a feline behavioral empath to figure out just why he's not being his normal self. Along the way Brandon continues the stories of the characters in this series & as our list of suspects continues to grow things continue to twist & turn their way up through a very surprising conclusion. Overall another satisfying entry in this series which continues to be an enjoyable read from start to finish....more
The 3rd book in Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter's "The Long Earth" series, "The Long Mars", is a book that means well, but along the way gets badThe 3rd book in Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter's "The Long Earth" series, "The Long Mars", is a book that means well, but along the way gets badly confused in multiple plots that it has no idea what to do with. Set in 2045, 5 years after the events of "The Long War", we find the people of Datum Earth still recovering from the Yellowstone explosion as they are being relocated to other worlds with a new US capitol set up on Madison West 5 as the Low Earth worlds continue to deal with that catastrophe. Joshua Valiente & Lobsang deal with the discovery of a new sub-species of human that has been created out of interaction with the trolls on Happy Landings a group of teenagers with superior mental abilities who refer to themselves as the Next. The Next communicate in a way that reminds me a bit of Star Trek's Bynars & the US ends up imprisoning them in a facility at Pearl Harbor in order to study them further.
Elsewhere, Maggie Kaufmann is in charge of a 2 twain mission to reach Earth West 250,000,000. The mission itself is at times relatively calm with her diverse group of crew members including Snowy, a beagle, amongst others. At various points, the ships stop to investigate a myriad of worlds that keep them guessing across variations in themes. Eventually, her crews do encounter the Next when they come across the wreckage of the "Neil Armstrong I" which is handled relatively quickly & without a lot of fanfare across a pair of short chapters.
Then there is Sally Linsay whose estranged father has summoned her to the Gap to start on an expedition across the Long Mars. It is these chapters of exploration across 3 million Marses that are at times the most interesting as the crews of the gliders they have launched show how very different things are for that planet across the steps. An encounter on a world with sentient life (one of the Joker worlds) leads her father to give them a Stepper in order to gain access to monoliths which could reveal a lot about how society developed on this Mars. That move though eventually backfires when they reach a world that her father hoped to find one with a space tether & they lose a crew member.
Pratchett & Baxter's story is at times fascinating and downright frustrating since there are so many moving parts in this series. The explorations of both the Long Mars & the continued exploration across the Long Earth are fascinating as these myriad worlds are explored. The authors win big points in my book for continue the banding theme of these worlds at times as well as the human interactions. Where this book goes astray is that amongst all of this are the plots involving the Low Earths and the Next who really seem like an afterthought at times although they are treated like every unknown being ever has been. When the plots eventually converge across the last quarter of the book, the Next are essentially swept away into no man's land & Lobsang does something that changes things at Happy Landings. Also the continued plight of the Low Earth worlds seems like a convenient afterthought as not a lot of time is spent there especially in this post Yellowstone catastrophe on Datum Earth. The worlds of Earth East remain mostly ignored something that has been primarily the case throughout this series.
In summary, I'm still a fan of this series which I figure will reach 4th installment sometime in 2015 despite the fact that at some point either the books need to be lengthened or have more time spent amongst the multiple plots to flesh things out further. Also, this reader would also like to see more done with the worlds of Earth East just to see what the Chinese have found or otherwise out that direction. With the introduction of the Long Mars worlds that opens up a lot more to work with as well. The series though remains at its best with the exploration of these new alternate versions of Earth & now Mars which is inspiration for the explorer in all of us & is the primary reason I keep coming back. Overall a so-so entry in a series that still has a lot going for it despite the flaws....more
The 5th of Richard Kadrey's "Sandman Slim" novels, "Kill City Blues" finds our resident former Lucifer, James Stark, looking for the Qomrama Om Ya a wThe 5th of Richard Kadrey's "Sandman Slim" novels, "Kill City Blues" finds our resident former Lucifer, James Stark, looking for the Qomrama Om Ya a weapon that the gods are looking for. The hunt leads to an LA shopping mall & a place known as Kill City. It is in this location that Stark has to locate the weapon & survive a lot more than he bargained for. Kadrey's story pretty much continues along the same vein as the prior installments with just an many twists & turns & as much blood & gore as you'd expect from this novel. The humor isn't quite there in this story although there is enough here to keep the story enjoyable & fast moving along with definitely enough material to keep this going for a while to come....more
Bob Ingersoll & Tony Isabella's "The Case of the Colonist's Corpse" is one of those rare Star Trek murder mystery novels that you almost wish hadBob Ingersoll & Tony Isabella's "The Case of the Colonist's Corpse" is one of those rare Star Trek murder mystery novels that you almost wish had been revisited again. The book is set on Aneher II where their administrator Daniel Latham is murdered a fragile peace is shattered. To the rescue comes Samuel T. Cogley to defend the Klingon Mak'Tor who is accused of the crime. The book itself is actually a very well written murder mystery using the characters of the original series sparingly enough for them not to be a major factor. The plot is well written & the mystery has enough twists & turns to keep you guessing up until the very end. The only disappointment that I as a reader have about this January 2004 is that the writers of the original series fiction never bothered to revisit this defense attorney which might've worked out well for the future....more