Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Freedom - A Thorough Explanation of How the United States Became the United States!

The Oxford dictionary describes "comprehensive" as "including all or nearly all elements of something."  Well, let me tell you that Freedom: The Enduring Importance of the American Revolution, by Jack D. Warren, Jr., is as comprehensive as it gets.  We get the decades leading up the American Revolution and  right up to the time the Federal Constitution was passed in 1787.  In between we learn how it all happened.  And we learn it in such a way that you don't want to put the book down.  On top of that, we get all kinds of portraits, maps, and other pictures to help us really see how it all happened.  

My goal in this review is to give you a just a few facts that I know you will find interesting.  It will make you crave to know much more about how we became an independent country.  You will NOT be bored!

1.  More than 50% of all British citizens who came to the colonies were indentured slaves.  They were either guilty of a crime or weren't able to pay off debts.  When they came to America, many of them were able to become free citizens after they performed several years of servitude.

2.  African slaves were brought to America as early as 1639.  And by 1740, there were 150,000 of them here.

3.  At the beginning of the war, Blacks made up 5-10% of the soldiers. And by the end of the war, that number jumped to 15-20%.  You will want to know why.

4.  The initial goal of the colonies was not to become an independent country but, rather, to become independent within the British Empire.

5.  Hundreds of women traveled with the army.  They cooked, cleaned, sewed, and tended to the wounded.

Does that whet your appetite?  It certainly should.  I suspect you will be fascinated, as I was, to learn a lot about George Washington in the early years...and to find out how the colonies became independent states...and what happened to the loyalists who supported the British Army throughout the war...and on and on.  Freedom makes the history books that we all had to read in school seem like abridged versions of abridged versions.  Get your copy of Freedom right away.  You will be very glad you did!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Kristin Harmel Does It Again!

By now I think you all know that I'm a big Kristin Harmel fan.  Like any author, I've liked some more than others, but they are all very good. Her latest, The Paris Daughter, is right up there among her best.  It initially takes place in Paris in the late '30s and early '40s.  Since it's historical fiction, the actual events depicted in the book are real.  And it's always interesting to see her different storylines about Paris during WWII.

The Paris Daughter focuses on a couple that own a bookstore and have 3 children and the wife of an artist who has 1 daughter.  There is also a 3rd protagonist who is Jewish and has 2 children.  How they all interact and the things they do during the German occupation will keep you riveted.  It's always a treat to learn from Kristin's books, even when some of the events are hard to read...and you WILL read them.

If you haven't picked this one up yet, get it!  And if you haven't read Kristin Harmel yet, what are you waiting for?  If you are in the latter group, I would start with The Sweetness of Forgetting.  Even though all of Kristin's books are terrific, TWoF is one of my all-time favorite books.


Monday, July 31, 2023

2 Short Reviews

I have recommendations for 2 books that are really good.  They are The Social Graces, by Renee Rosen, and The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.  The reason I'm lumping them together is that Renee and Marie are my 2 favorite authors for historical fiction featuring women in bygone days.  TSG is 1st.

I have read a number of Renee's books.  They are all good.  This one was very interesting because it's all about society in the Gilded Age (1877-1900).  And it focuses on 2 very wealthy women:  Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt.  But here's the catch.  Caroline is old money, and Alva is new. And in this particular time in history, new couldn't break into old.  The book centers on how Alva tries so hard to get into Caroline's good graces...not so fast, Alva!  It's very enlightening as to how New York Society operated during that time.

Like Renee, I have read a number of Marie's books, too.  The Personal Librarian takes place around the same time as The Social Graces.  But its emphasis is very different.  It's all about how a black woman passes for white and becomes J.P. Morgan's personal librarian (hence the title!).  It's truly fascinating to learn how Belle not only turns into an outstanding librarian for Morgan, but also how and why she sees fit to pass as white. Both stories will keep you riveted.  And on top of Marie doing what she does so well, she wrote this one with Victoria who brings another viewpoint into the picture.

Take it from me.  You can't go wrong with any Renee Rosen or Marie Benedict book.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Swift Sword - The True Story of the Marines of MIKE 3/5 in Vietnam, 4 September 1967, by Doyle D. Glass

Let me start this review by telling you I was eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War years.  I was at Cal Berkeley when the government decided to eliminate the deferment for those of us attending college. My draft number was 152, which, it turned out, was low enough to be called up.  I took the non-combat way out and joined the Army Reserve. But I, at least, was aware of the situation the draftees were up against. I definitely do not regret the path I took.

In Swift Sword - The True Story of the Marines of MIKE 3/5 in Vietnam, 4 September 1967, we get a very close, in depth look at a particular battle in Vietnam.  My initial reaction was that there was too much time spent on all the details of the battle.  But as I went further along, I realized that the author did this so that we could get a whole bunch of comments today from the soldiers who were there.  It was very enlightening.

There were a lot of very interesting reveals about this battle and its aftermath.  I guess you could say the list below has spoiler alerts on it. So, if you plan on reading Swift Sword, you might want to hold off looking at the list.  But just know that you will be blown away by some of these revelations.

1.  I liked that the book has sections which focus on the battle from the                                        Vietnamese standpoint.                     2.  Soldiers from the United States and Vietnam met in 2009 in Vietnam.                                                                         3.  Approximately 1000 soldiers were killed because their M16 rifles didn't work properly.                              4.  The U.S. didn't hold on to land they overran, which is considered to be a big tactical mistake.                             5.  I really liked that the book interspersed the battle scenes with comments made today by soldiers who were there.                                                                                                                                                         6.  I was intrigued by how many of the current comments questioned decisions by the commanders.           7.  There was an enormous amount of protests when the soldiers came back from Vietnam.  They were oftentimes treated poorly.  I remember this very well.  Since I've always lived in the Bay Area, I was able to see firsthand the reception they got when they came into local airports.                                                                                                                           8.  There were descriptions of reunions that were very touching.                                                                           9.  I was shocked to learn that many South Vietnamese actually welcomed the North Vietnamese.  They believed that the South Vietnam government was corrupt.

Do you want to know the inside story about the war in Vietnam?  Then grab a copy of Swift Sword - The True Story of the Marines of MIKE 3/5 in Vietnam, 4 September 1967.  You will hear it straight from the (many) horses' mouths.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

The Combat Codes is Book 1 of a fantasy trilogy from Alexander Darwin. Now I'm not necessarily a big fantasy fan.  But I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  I was just sailing along, getting into it, and then...BOOM...I hit page 39 and teared up (the 1st of many).  That was when I realized I was definitely into it!  And it went on from there.  

One of the fascinating things about fantasies is that worlds are created strictly out of imagination.  That's pretty amazing stuff.  Well, Alexander definitely did that.  And he did it in such a way that it's completely believable.  I found myself immersed in this make-believe world.  I don't think a fantasy author (or any author, for that matter) can do much better than that!

I have no doubt that once you have read Combat Codes you will be heading to Book 2. 


Sunday, April 9, 2023

Shadow House by A.R. Silverberry

I've always been a fan of A.R. Silverberry's books.  His Wyndano's Cloak is just flat-out one of my favorite books.  His latest, Shadow House, continues his streak of writing science fiction and fantasy books that feature young adult protagonists that appeal to all ages.  As an avid-reading septuagenarian, I am always happy to read an A.R. Silverberry book and know that I will be engaged throughout, even when the main characters are still in their teens!  I absolutely believe that this is not an easy thing to do.

In Shadow House, the protagonist, Johari Hightower, has to make a decision that could greatly impact his well-being.  Will he choose to protect himself?  Or will he risk his own safety to protect someone else? I don't think any of us know ahead of time how we will react in a situation like the one Johari faced.  Suffice it to say that the decision Johari makes will have you spellbound.  Get your copy of Shadow House and find out what happens.     

The White House by Sean Christopher

The White House, by Sean Christopher, is a very interesting storyline.  All I will tell you is that it combines a terrorist attack at an Ivy League school, the kidnapping of a presidential candidate's son along with the daughter of an FBI agent as well as an heir to a major corporation, and skeletons in the closet of the holder of the highest office in the United States.  Are you intrigued?  You should be.  Sean keeps us guessing as he slowly unfolds the plot line.

Since this is a mystery, the good news is that we don't really know what's going to happen until it happens.  I'm not sure what else you can ask of a book in this genre.  I'm pretty sure you will find it as interesting as I did.