For me, there has always been something fascinating about lost ships. I don't think I'm necessarily weird, just that ship disappearances serve to remiFor me, there has always been something fascinating about lost ships. I don't think I'm necessarily weird, just that ship disappearances serve to remind us that we have never conquered the oceans. This book provides a combination of history with visual (prints, photos, diagrams, maps, charts) representation of the missing ships. Rather than break up the chapters chronologically, the layout instead focuses upon how or why a ship went down into the Locker of Davy Jones.
NATURE'S FURY (Mother Nature gets angry)
The General Grant was an American clipper ship that left Melbourne in 1866, laden with gold miners and their families. They were on their way to London with their wealth from the Australian Gold Rush. Instead, the ship was wrecked on the Auckland Islands, having drifted through fog only to suddenly emerge in front of a 400 foot jagged black rock. Sucked into a cave, the ship was destroyed with just 15 survivors. Their hell continued, as they had to live on the barren, rarely visited islands. After living off the land for months, four brave men launched one of the surviving lifeboats to try to reach help. They were never heard or seen again. A year and a half after the disaster, a sealing expedition chanced to come by where they found the 10 remaining survivors. The sunken gold has never been found.
THE FATAL FLAW (caused by human error)
The Vasa was supposed to be the mighty warship worthy of the mighty King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. It was loaded with 64 cannons and bedecked with hundreds of heavy ornate carvings. The ship designers disagreed with the King, telling him the ship would be too top-heavy and would sink. The King ordered them to continue. The result: On her maiden voyage in 1628, the ship wobbled out of port and saluted the King with cannon fire...and promptly keeled over on her side, sending the greatest Swedish vessel, and fifty men, to watery graves.
COLLISION COURSE (no one looking out for the obvious)
The Empress of Ireland had a ginger tomcat named 'Emmy' who never failed to sail with her ship. Until, that is, the early morning of May 29, 1914, when she refused to board the ship and instead watched it pull away. Call it feline intuition. 1,012 lives were lost when the ship collided with a Norwegian coal ship on the St. Lawrence River and quickly sunk.
There are more chapters with each disaster given at least two pages for illustrations and text. I would have preferred more info and some of the disasters were not necessarily disasters, just shipwrecks. But this is a good start for anyone interested in maritime catastrophe.
Book Season = Autumn (gales of November come a'slashing)...more
"Forgive me. Had I known you were a talking rabbit, I would have introduced myself."
Malta sits rather forlornly in the Mediterranean Sea, its culture "Forgive me. Had I known you were a talking rabbit, I would have introduced myself."
Malta sits rather forlornly in the Mediterranean Sea, its culture a mishmash of the various invaders who have conquered it. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Arabs, the European Knights of St. John...all have left their mark. So, the Maltese folktales tend to be a touch fragmented, switching between its Arabic and European influences. Down-to-earth and somewhat absurd would be a good description of Maltese tales, but always amusing.
This story relates the tale of two brothers, one a do-gooder, the other more focused on selfish goals. Their journey starts when they go to look for a cave in which to entomb their still-living father, who has grown too old to be productive.
"You are quite useless. And you know what they say, better a hundred blind men than one lame man."
And you thought the Brothers Grimm were tough. As the brothers look for the perfect cave, they encounter the Four Seasons, a talking rabbit, and a not-to-be-trusted wizard. And oh yes, a dragon, too!
Great fun! And what a presentation! This is a limited edition printed wonder, handmade by Ephemeral Books on Etsy. Just look at that cover, with the baleful dragon's left eye staring you down from a reptilish dark green scaly book skin. How many books get produced looking like dinosaur skin?
Not only was the folktale a great read, the book also contains a section for the Maltese language, providing the definitions for the italicized words throughout the story. I was even more excited when I received the book. It came wrapped in a map...a map! Talk about starting a journey with a printed journey. It was all carefully enclosed with green twine, which when opened, was then covered with green tissue paper. Christmas in summer.
I list this lovely production under the children's bookshelves, but it really was made for curious adults who remain young at heart. Magic seeds and powerful amulets and prickly pears.
...he was susceptible to taking the wrong advice from the wrong people at the wrong time.
Spot-on description of Henry III. These occasional sentences ...he was susceptible to taking the wrong advice from the wrong people at the wrong time.
Spot-on description of Henry III. These occasional sentences from author Dan Jones made this book a lively read, although given the subject matter, any re-telling of the illustrious Plantagenet family would probably not be on the boring side.
And let me plant my flag right now: I am a Plantagenet-ista. Loved this dynasty, from Henry II to Richard III. Not the selfish Tudors or the Teutonic Hanovers or the wilty Windsors for me. No Sir, I stand firmly behind the family of Edward Longshanks, Richard The Lionheart, and John Lackland. Damn you, Henry VII!
The book begins with the infamous White Ship disaster, which sent Henry I's heir and the next-in-line heir to the bottom of the sea. Since Henry had very likely been the murderer of his older brother William II, this was the old sins of the father revisited on the sons. In any case, the "Age of Shipwreck" had begun, as chaos ruled the land when Henry III passed away. At this point, we speed through the whole Stephen-or-Matilda as ruler to get to Henry II, the first Plantagenet King.
And yes, I always think of Mr. O'Toole when I read about Henry II.
This is where the wild ride starts, as Henry and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine created the devil's brood, out of which arise Richard I and John (who doesn't need a numeral after his name because there will never be another King John). Here the book does try a bit to give John some credit for something, but boooo-hisss-snarl, he really was the Darth Vader of his time.
Henry II came next, followed by the majestic Edward I, the Steve Jobs of his day. You want to rescue a country from its incompetent overseers? Produce kick-ass Edward. Exciting stuff.
I enjoyed the book, but I deeply disagree with the author's contention that Richard II was the end of the Plantagenets. Not! The Lancasters and Yorks were Plantas also, but I get the idea that the book should end with the downfall of another wonky family member (and so Jones can write separate books on that Roses thing). In fact, I found my knowledge of Richard II was not that good, so the last chapter was rather enlightening.
And yes, I think of Mr. Whishaw when I read about Richard II.
All in all, a very good book on an extraordinary family. The writing involved me and made history more accessible.
The second book in the Harry Potter series was not the second Potter book I read, but little matter. Having started with #4 and then backward into #1,The second book in the Harry Potter series was not the second Potter book I read, but little matter. Having started with #4 and then backward into #1, I devoured this as my thirst grew. It's a "just-right" book. Not too big, not too small, but just right.
1. Treacle fudge that cements jaws together. 2. Explanation of Quidditch. Rowling has some imagination. 3. Slugs coming out the mouth. No child could yell 'yuck' as I did. 4. The Sorting Hat reading minds. I will ALWAYS love that. 5. Moaning Myrtle.
Ah, the list could go on forever. It was quite fun to be able to read this as an adult and knowing it was waiting for me as my nightly read, which made the day move so much quicker.
Book Season = Autumn (to me it's always October in Potter's world)...more