Saturday, May 31, 2008

1776 by David McCullough

First sentence:

"On the afternoon of Thursday, October 26, 1775, His Royal Majesty George III, King of England, rode in royal splendor from St. James's Palace to the Palace of Westminster, there to address the opening of Parliament on the increasingly distressing issue of war in America."


"In this stirring book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence -- when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King's men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

Here also is the Revolution as experienced by American Loyalists, Hessian mercenaries, politicians, preachers, traitors, spies, men and women of all kinds caught in the paths of war.

At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books -- Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of winter.

But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost -- Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.

The book begins in London on October 26, 1775, when His Majesty King George III went before Parliament to declare America in rebellion and to affirm his resolve to crush it. From there the story moves to the Siege of Boston and its astonishing outcome, then to New York, where British ships and British troops appear in numbers never imagined and the newly proclaimed Continental Army confronts the enemy for the first time. David McCullough's vivid rendering of the Battle of Brooklyn and the daring American escape that followed is a part of the book few readers will ever forget.

As the crucial weeks pass, defeat follows defeat, and in the long retreat across New Jersey, all hope seems gone, until Washington launches the "brilliant stroke" that will change history.

The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.

Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough's 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history."

My thoughts:

This book is a very informative look at a single year in American history. I liked learning about the British and Loyalist point of view as well as the problems Washington had in keeping the army together. The portraits, letters and the maps also add to the experience.

Date read: 5/13/2008
Book #: 28
Challenges: Numbers Challenge, Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: History

ISBN-10: 0743226712
ISBN-13: 9780743226714
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 294
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008
Hosted by: Katrina at Callapidder Days
When: March 20th - June 19th
What: Read as many books as you want

My list (in no particular order):

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

First sentence:

"Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it."


"This morning, Commander Vimes of the City Watch had it all. He was a Duke. He was rich. He was respected. He had a silver cigar case. He was about to become a father. This morning he thought longingly about the good old days. Tonight, he's in them.

Flung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must get a new name and a job, and there's only one job he's good at: cop in the Watch. He must track down a brutal murderer. He must find his younger self and teach him everything he knows. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force - fast. Because Sam Vimes knows what's going to happen. He remembers it. He was there. It's part of history. And you can't change history...

But Sam is going to. He has no choice. Otherwise, a bloody revolution will start, and good men will die. Sam saw their names on old headstones just this morning - but tonight they're young men who think they have a future. And rather than let them die, Sam will do anything - turn traitor, burn buildings, take over a revolt, anything - to snatch them from the jaws of history. He will do it even if victory will mean giving up the only future he knows.

For if he succeeds, he's got no wife, no child, no riches, no fame - all that will simply vanish. But if he doesn't try, he wouldn't be Sam Vimes.

And so the battle is on. He knows how it's going to end; after all, he was there. His name is on one of those headstones. But that's just a minor detail..." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was a funny and poignant book about visiting the past. I liked how Sam taught his younger self about bravery and doing the right thing. I also liked meeting characters when they were younger such as Dibbler and Vetinari.

Date read: 5/1/08
Book #: 27
Series: Discworld #29
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0060013117
ISBN-13: 9780060013110
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 338
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page

Sunday, May 18, 2008

3rd Degree by James Patterson

First sentence:

"It was a clear, calm, lazy April morning, the day the worst week of my life began."


"Plunging into a burning townhouse, Detective Lindsay Boxer discovers three dead bodies...and a mysterious message at the scene. When more corpses turn up, Lindsay asks her friends Claire Washburn of the medical examiners office, Assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas to help her find a murderer who vows to kill every three days. Even more terrifying, he has targeted one of the four friends. Which one will it be?"

My thoughts:

This was a good suspenseful mystery as Lindsay and her friends try to figure out who the murderer is before the next victim dies. I liked the characters and the plot and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, 4th of July.

Date read: 4/27/2008
Book #: 26
Challenge: Numbers Challenge
Series: Women's Murder Club #3
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Mystery

ISBN-10: 0446614831
ISBN-13: 9780446614832
Publisher: Warner Books
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 339
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

First sentence:
"Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians."


"Susanna Clarke's brilliant first novel is an utterly compelling epic tale of nineteenth century England and the two very different magicians who, as teacher and pupil and then as rival, emerge to change its history. In the year 1806, in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to be dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician emerges: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and the two join forces in the war against France. But as Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, he risks sacrificing not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything else that he holds dear." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I admit when I first saw this book I was reluctant to read it - not because of the subject. I like books about magic and history, but because of the size. From the beginning, however, Clarke's writing pulled me into this world in which magic is studied and practiced, used and misunderstood. I especially liked the interactions between Norrell and Strange and the ones between the servant Stephen Black and the faery gentleman with the thistle-down hair.

Date read: 4/25/2008
Book #: 25
Challenges: Book Awards Challenge; Chunkster Challenge; Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2008; What's in a Name Challenge?; Man Booker Challenge
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Historical Fantasy

ISBN-10: 1582346038
ISBN-13: 9781582346038
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 846
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Attraction by Douglas Clegg

First sentence:

"Out on an empty highway, it called."


"The signs all along the desert highway read Come See the Mystery! But some mysteries should remain buried forever. Charlie Goodrow, owner of the Brake Down Palace Gas and Sundries, tells anyone who stops for a fill-up about the mysterious attraction in back. It’s the mummified remains of an ancient legendary flesh-scraper, whose job had been to scrape the flesh off the bones of human sacrifices…

When a car filled with teenagers gets a flat tire out in the middle of the Arizona heat, the kids figure they have time to check out the Mystery. Behind curtains, in a glass case, lies a small, withered corpse with very long fingernails. Above it, tacked on the wall, is a sign: Do Not Touch. Do Not Feed. But it has to be a hoax, right? How could the kids know that feeding the Mystery will be the worst mistake of their lives? How could they know that the flesh-scraper is hungry for flesh?" -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

Although some of the scenes and dialogue in "The Attraction" were clich├ęd, I liked the overall story of teenagers lost in the desert confronting an ancient monster. I also liked the second story, "Necromancer," especially how the narrator discovers the truth about his twin's death.

Date read: 4/22/2008
Book #: 24
Challenge: Celebrate the Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Horror

ISBN-10: 0843954116
ISBN-13: 9780843954111
Publisher: Leisure Books
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 321
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page