From the title of this book its obvious that there will be some editoralizing about the topic of the Mexican American war. The beliefs of the author seem to me to be as follows:
James Polk was a very, very bad man who had a lame idea called "maifest destiny". The evil Polk hijacked the presidential election and forced the country to go to war with Mexico. Everyone hated the war, especially Abe Licoln who was a very, very nice man. The nasty old Polk would stop at nothing to acheive his goal of stealing as much land from Mexico as possible and turing it into slave havens.
Editoralizing aside this book can be a real snoozer. It seems that the author gets most of her info from diaries, letters, and newspapers. This leads to lengthy details about everything boring and sketchy detail on everything interesting. For example John J. Hardin's demise on the battel field was quickly outlined but the details of his funeral went on and on and on.
At the end of the day this book did a decent job describing an era of history that is often overshadowed by the civil war. It is facinating to learn how much this war changed the United States and would shape its future. If you don't know anything about the Mexican-American war then this book may be a good introduction if you can get passed the boring parts.
"from the halls of montezuma....."
I am a fan of horror fiction. Not the slasher stuff or anything too corporeal but rather all things paranormal. The last 10 years have seen an explosion of the horror genre and the “paranormal twist” has been applied to almost every genre – its paranormal meets romance, paranormal meets detective mystery, and don’t get me started about zombies. Don’t get me wrong, I love the selection but sometimes I just crave the unadorned, back-to-the-basics ghost story. That is why when I came across Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story,” the unadorned title sold me.
“Ghost Story” is long, the characters are numerous, and it takes a while to get used to Straub’s shifting perspective, but those that stick with this book will enjoy what they find. This is a well written novel with a tight plot that is very good at setting a gloomy tone with tension that slowly builds. The mystery is slowly revealed and compelling. One particular aspect of this novel that I found unique was that the paranormal entities were multidimensional and had character with motivations that made sense. I am happy I found this novel, and I would put it on my list of “must reads” for the genre.
One other thing worth mentioning here is that the narration is excellent, and really helped with the shifting perspective and with keeping track of characters.
This is the first of the Jack Reacher novels and it was the first one that I had ever read. I had heard about the series before and so went into this book with high hopes. I must say that on one hand I was not disappointed. The plot moves along very briskly and the action is compelling. The plot twists enough to never be boring. Overall it was an above average piece of genre fiction.
The story opens when the hero, Jack Reacher, a retired Army MP is arrested for murder in a small Georgia town full of corrupt politicians and police. It isn’t long before our hero is drawn into the search for the real killers and in the process must take down a crime ring that is on an international level! Sounds great right? Why then don’t I give this novel highest marks? Well here are a few things that I found funny or annoying.
1. Jack is a man’s man. Think Rambo mixed with James bond. He is hyper violent but smooth with the ladies. His violence is always justified in his eyes and he is never remorseful even when he is gouging out the eyes of hired thugs. 10 to one odds? Sure that is easy for Jack Reacher. The violence in this story is over the top and nobody ever seems to hold Jack accountable or even be interested in his murdering disposition.
2. There are twists and turns in this story but you’ll see them coming well before the characters who sometimes get woefully behind the reader in their understanding. After a good climatic scene the end somewhat rolls to a halt and loose ends are swept under the rug conveniently and unrealistically.
3. There are a few too many coincidences to be random. Without giving the plot away, let’s just say that the ties that Jack has to this cases are SO strong that the odds defy logic. There are other plot issues that I won’t go in to so as not to give anything away but suffice it to say that you shouldn’t ask too many questions from this plot.
After all these complaints I still think that this is an above average action mystery. Perhaps too violent for me but still fun and entertaining - especially if you don’t want to think too hard about how this town’s mystery could actually happen. I recommend it as a casual read for the beach or perhaps a long drive (not for the kids however).
This is a lively piece of historical fiction that is probably more fiction than history. It’s nominally about the court astrologer for King Christian IV of Denmark and his quest to murder the king for what he believes was the unlawful execution of Tycho Brahe, the famous astronomer. Along the way the astrologer must deal with the king’s conflicted son, traitorous knights, adulterous ladies in waiting, and a few ghosts for good measure. Sounds pretty exciting right? Well not exactly.
The story bogs down when it comes to the astrologer. Exciting things seem to be happening all around him but his own story is pretty weak. As a result the middle section drags but the beginning and ending are both pretty good. Indeed, the novel’s focus on the science of the day seemed like a new spin for a story occurring in the middle ages.
I would have given it higher marks if it weren’t for the performance. It was really pretty bad. The reader ignored most punctuation and did not voice his characters very well. As a result the story as read was hard to follow – especially at the beginning.
Lighting is a time travel action suspense story that revolves around a girl named Laura who is selected by a time traveler as special - so special that this time traveler risks his life, the lives of others, and the fate of the world to save her at various times in her life.
I found this book dated, tedious and tiresome due especially to the author’s penchant for unfunny comic relief and melodrama. The story unfolds very slowly. More than half of this book is spent in exposition of Laura’s life. When the plot finally starts you realize that ALL of this could have been skipped. Why you ask? Because this girl is only secondary to the plot which is all about the time traveler’s attempt to keep the evil forces that created the time travelling portal from changing the world as we know it. I am tempted to tell you who the “evil forces” are just to reveal how worn out this plot is, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.
While the author does a good job with the mechanics of time travel, the plot, at times, changed gears so roughly that it forced me out of the story. I found myself turning the performance off when I didn’t have to. The characters surrounding the Laura are annoying and made worse by the narration which, in my opinion, made odd choices for the some of the voices.
I know people love Koontz stories and maybe if I had read this in 1989 I would have found this story fresh and lively but it is 2013 and I found it average at best.
We are a culture obsessed with positive thinking. Just look a self help best sellers list and you’ll find “The Secret”, “The Power of Positive Thinking” and others which boast the idea that if you think positively then positive things will manifest themselves in your life. Gurus like Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins have gotten fantastically wealthy off of this message so I guess that it works for them, but how about the rest of us? If you’re like me then you probably have read some of these and even tried to apply them but without much success; life is too troubling, too unpredictable, and too sad sometimes to face it with a dumb grin. That’s why I love this book, “The Antidote,” so much; it is a much more realistic way of thinking that can face the world we live in and still offer some peace.
This book talks about the flip side of positive thinking. It starts with stoic reasoning and shows that what is bad in our life is labeled bad by our own mind and that when studied almost anything could be worse. The book moves on to talk about goal fixation, the ego and the self, and ultimately death. I really enjoyed this book written in the journalistic style of a magazine article. There is a LOT of wisdom packed into this short presentation. I plan on listening to it multiple times to get all of the messages. What I mean by this is that some parts of this book require “active” listening - you really need to consider what the author is saying to understand it. Maybe not the best book to listen to while you’re doing something else, but a definate must read for those who have found self help books to be lacking in some way.
This is the first of a multi-volume series known as the Dresden Files. These novels feature Harry Dresden, a detective for hire who specializes in the supernatural. Why? Because he is a wizard himself. This piece of genre fiction was excellent. The hero is likeable in spite of a few odd affectations, and the story, while predictable, was very entertaining from start to finish. I will probably read another from this series.
The performance was a little clunky at first. the reader smacked his lips and swallowed hard too many times to go unnoticed. There was also a board tone to the reading that didn't seem quite right. After a while however these things seemed to calm down or I stopped noticing them so it wasn't a huge deal. If these things turn you off at first, keep listening it gets better.
The year is sometime in the future and the earth is a crap hole of pollution, overpopulation, and poverty. The only way to cope, for many, is the virtual reality game called the “Oasis”. Much more than a game, it is an entire virtual universe, and one can live one’s life online, which is exactly what the hero (Wade) does in this story.
As the story opens, the creator of the Oasis has recently died and left his entire fortune to whoever can solve the puzzles and games he creates to gather keys, to pass through gates, and to find the prize egg. Wade is what is known as a “Gunter”, someone who has devoted his life to finding the egg which means that he is an 80’s trivia expert since all the puzzles revolve around arcade games, movies, television, and computers from the 80’s. What unfolds is a typical kid-saves-world quest story where the “Gunters” are the good guys while the “Sixers” are the bad guys who work for an evil corporation that uses its money and resources to win the game by bending all the rules. Wade must, with the help of some other Gunters, find the egg before the evil Sixers, and do so and before the Sixers can kill either his character or himself in real life.
This was a good idea for a story and the 80’s trivia was fun for a while since I am in the demographic that actually experienced dungeons and dragons, coin op video games, and radio shack computers, etc. The problem for me was that the trivial references ran so long that I think the story was often times put second. I can imagine that if you didn’t grow up in the 80’s you might find this book completely annoying. There are also many problems with the logic of this story if you look closely. For example, who cares if the Sixer’s company wanted to commercialize the Oasis? – it was already commercial, and why are Sixer tactics evil when they use them but not evil when the Gunters do the same thing? Then there was Wade’s savant like memory which pushed the limits of believability. All this being said, it is still a decent story and I don’t want to nitpick it to death – it deserves better than that.
I admit that I liked “Ready Player One” much more than I expected. It was a page turner. If you grew up in the eighties and liked geeky things then you’ll love this, but if not I am not sure that the story is strong enough to carry the day.
First of all let me admit 2 things. First I am not a believer in VonDaniken's theories but I do like to listen to them in the same way I like listening to SciFi. Second I couldn't finish this book; I only made it half way before I could take no more.
Before I get to a summary let me tell you why this book was terrible.
1.The discussion of aliens is sparse and almost nonexistent. The book spends most of its time detailing archeological mysteries that the author finds interesting but apparently no conventional archeologist has any interest.
2.VonDaniken likes to scoff at others beliefs and laugh at what he thinks is faulty science.
3.The book has no real thesis that it is trying to prove or defend – especially one that ties in with the title in any way. He drifts around from idea to idea and it was painfully hard to try to figure out what all these ideas had in common.
It was perhaps the 2nd item that made me stop reading this book. I mean really - If you are writing a book that is based on the premise that aliens visited the earth and did all these crazy things and then left you should be a little more tolerant of other people’s ideas. Maybe I stopped reading before he could conclude everything but I had seen enough.
In the first part of the book VonDaniken tries to reason why there were so many animals mummified and why were they considered sacred. He also wanted to reason why there are so many animal hybrids depicted in Egyptian art and literature. Here is his theory summarized in my words.
Aliens were riding around the universe and ran out of gas. They stopped at earth to replenish all their supplies and fuel. They were here for a long time and got bored so they created genetic labs on earth to study replicating and creating hybrid animals for fun. Earthlings killed the first of these and really made the aliens mad so they started marking their animals with things like horns on their head or a special birthmarks. As a result humans could tell the animals “of the gods” and so treated them with respect even after the aliens left.
Seriously!? This is your theory and you scoff at people that believe in life after death….I bought this book deeply discounted on sale and it still wasn’t worth it to me. Maybe he just rubbed me the wrong way here. I did like is first book much more. Maybe the second half gets much more exciting and reveals secret truths about the world. Its a mystery I can live with.
An Exhibition to the high artic seems fated to end poorly even before it starts. An uneasy Norwegian captain who knows more than he will acknowledge; all but three of the team struck down before even landing; and gruesome artifacts of other unsuccessful enterprises found on the bay shore at which the team plans to overwinter, all seem to point at the reality that nobody wants to acknowledge: this place is haunted. Shortly after the team arrives uneasiness sets in and through some unfortunate circumstances Jack is to be left for a short time alone to man the station. This is in October 1937 and the sun has already set for the last time of the season. Events are told through the entries in Jack's journal and slowly we watch Jack lose control as terror seeps into every action and every perception. How long can he hold the fort until the others come and save him? He has a radio, dogs and even has a visitor but ultimately the winter is setting in and the ice will soon settle the question of his rescue. Meanwhile every month comes the moonless sky and the nothingness that threatens to consume him.
This is a wonderful piece of horror fiction that slowly ratchets up the tension and uneasiness. It is unsettling yet compelling and was a true “page turner” that I almost listened to completely in one sitting. As I read I wondered: “which is more horrifying: the ghost we see or the ghost we create in our minds?”, “How much of our sanity is linked to the things we call reality – light, color, other people, sound?”, and “Are their things that we don’t understand or want to acknowledge that exist beyond this reality?” Jack must balance these questions with other forces pulling on him, such as rationality, duty, loyalty, honor, and love.
I felt the length and the pacing of the story were perfect. In these days where every novel is part of a trilogy or massive in length, it was refreshing to encounter a tight little story as complete and satisfying as this one. I highly recommend this for fans of horror or psychological thrillers. To me this story had elements of “The Shining”, “The Thing”, and “The Turn of the Screw.”
I'm a Twain fan. If I had to invite several people from history to dinner Mark Twain would definitely be one. He knows the art of storytelling and can make an amusing story from virtually nothing. That's a little of what this book is - little stories about this or that which happened to him or his family over the years.
The stories are sweet and sentimental and full of love and warmth. I would not say that this is an autobiography in the conventional sense and the author will tell you as much in his opening forward. For a better biography I would read "Life on the Mississippi" which covers most of Twain's early life as a river boat pilot. There are overlaps between the books but the "Life on.." book is much more chronological and orderly about the tales.
I liked this book because Twain has a sweetness and innocence in his style that I think speaks to an age gone by - an age I would have liked to have known. From his stories I like the man. I feel that he was a very generous and kind man and for that I like to listen to him rattle on about this or that. Those that don't feel such a kinsmanship with Twain or that are new to Twain might see this book as a collection of the ramblings of an old man in no real order or sense which could be frustrating.
The real hero in this presentation is Bronson Pinchot. His narration was one of the best I have encountered. The inflections were perfect. Even the tearful reminiscences were so skillfully done that I would swear it was Twain himself recounting these tales to me personally.
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