The allure of lost treasure fascinates everyone, yet no many try to actually find it. Charles Armistead retells his time looking for such In Search of the Golden Rainbow with his father, great-uncle, and several business partners. Yet while searching for gold, Armistead learns lessons about life and death.
Covering a period of nine months, Armistead describes his time while searching for a lost Mexican mine in the Oregon Mountains of New Mexico. Over the course of 96 pages, Armistead relates many adventures and mishaps throughout in a smooth transition from one to another. Yet because of nearly 40 years between the events and the writing only the incidents that made the biggest impression and the details both Armistead and his father could agree on were included in the book. Although the book is clearly written for a teenage audience, its short length is a major downside and something I didn’t realize way back when my mother read me this book when I was a child. While the book does have a religious message as well, Armistead doesn’t “preach” throughout it instead only bring in a religious message into the book at an appropriate connection to the events he is retelling.
In Search of the Golden Rainbow is over 35 years old, yet it is still an enjoyable read. Armistead’s writing style provides a quick and easy read of his time looking for lost gold while also finding some spiritual truths. If I had decided when I was a teen to read this book for myself instead of relying on my faulty childhood memories, I would have enjoyed it not only for the adventure but also that Armistead relayed spiritual lessons in a conversational way and not highhandedly.
The death of the Apostles brought an end to the sacred history recorded in the Bible save for the prophecies of the future in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, however the message of the Gospel and the history of the Church continued. The Great Controversy, the final volume of Ellen G. White’s Conflict of the Ages series in which the history of the Christian Church is chronicled from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of sin and the recreation of Earth. At almost 700 pages, the events of the last two millennia are touch with special emphasis on the Reformation, the message of 1844, and the climax of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan at the end of time.
The Great Controversy focuses entirely on the Christian Age with White beginning the history with the how Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire yet at the same time was watered down with the influences of paganism and other errors. Yet White emphasizes that like Biblical Israel, even though the majority of Christians worshiped—unknowingly—in error, some still held to the truth of Scripture. Then over the course of the next 250 pages, White describes the Protestant Reformation from Wycliffe through the Pilgrim Fathers arrival on the shores of the New World. White then transitions to the events leading up to Great Disappointment of 1844 and the Biblical explanation for the significant event that occurred in Heaven. White explains how the Great Controversy is effecting those living not only when she first wrote the book but to the reader today and how it our decisions will effect where we stand during the events she describes at the end of the book with the second coming of Christ and the destruction of sin.
The Great Controversy is the last of the five-book Conflict of the Ages series and is a mixture of non-Biblical history as well as explanations of the prophetic events of Daniel and Revelation that have and yet to occur through to the end of sin. This book shows that God’s message of love through His law is still relevant today as it was from the beginning of Genesis and before, even with the attempts by Satan to undermine it or simply overthrow it for his own vision. As in even book in this series Ellen White wants the readers of The Great Controversy to know that the present world of sin will not last and there will be an end, yet it is up to the reader to decide where they will stand in relation to Christ and Satan.
The first subdivision of the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is a mix bag of both story quality and the interpretation of the phrase ‘dangerous women’. In seven stories across genres around the central theme of women who are dangerous, a reader is treated to see women in various ways only but is also forced to figure out if the women presented or alluded to are actually dangerous.
Of the seven stories featured in Dangerous Women 1 the three best at presenting both a very good story and dangerous women were Carrie Vaugh’s “Raisa Stepanova”, Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken”, and George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen”. Just outside these three was Cecelia Holland’s “Nora’s Song” which had a very good story but was seen from the perspective of a little girl finding out how dangerous her mother is. These four stories were at the very beginning and the last three stories of the collection giving the anthology a strong start and finish.
However, the three stories in the middle suffered from a failure of either not being very good or not having a dangerous woman. Both Megan Lindholm’s “Neighbors” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “Wrestling Jesus” were very good stories, but the danger posed by the women either featured or more mentioned then seen was hard to detect. But the weakest story of the entire collection was Lawrence Block’s “I Know How to Pick’em” which went from having potential to falling flat by the end.
Overall Dangerous Women 1 is a mixed bag of very good stories with strong female characters, just very good stories with no danger attached to any female character, and just plain bad all around. The best that could be said is in the end the reader is the ultimate judge.
Individual Story Ratings
Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn (4/5)
I Know How to Pick’em by Lawrence Block (1/5)
Neighbors by Megan Lindholm (2.5/5)
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale (2/5)
My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (4/5)
Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland (3.5/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R.R. Martin (4/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R..R. Martin
The Targaryen civil war known as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ was mythologized in Westeros by bards for almost two hundred years before the events of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. “The Princess and the Queen” offers the history of first great Targaryen civil war through the death of one of the titular characters, but unlike other Targaryen civil wars or rebellions that threatened the dynasty this one features dragons on both sides.
The titular characters were Rhaenyra Targaryen, eldest child of King Viserys I, and Viserys’ second wife Queen Alicent Hightower, mother of Viserys’ eldest son Aegon. These two dangerous women were rivals for one thing, the succession to the Iron Throne. Through oaths and proclamations Viserys had designated Rhaenyra as his heir but Alicent championed the right of her son Aegon to succeed as was Westerosi custom of sons over daughters. For years this feud was building up as Viserys grew older and everyone awaited his death with unease as it felt like a battle for the Iron Throne was sure to follow, a battle that would pit Targaryen dragons against one another.
Written as a history by an archmaester of the Citadel, Martin gives an account of ‘the Dance’ noting first the political intrigue by Queen Alicent and her father to crown her son as Aegon II, then the war of letters and ravens to gather support by the two claimants from all the great lords of the realm before inevitably blood was shed then gushed from almost every corner of the realm. Yet, while some of the narrative reads like a dry history some others describe the action of battles in such a way as to make your imagination view two or more dragons battling one another over sea and land, fighting to the death.
Although the military actions in “The Princess and the Queen” are dominated for the most part by men, it’s the decisions by Rhaenyra and to a lesser extent by Alicent throughout the conflict that make this civil war unlike any other in Westerosi history. Yet, the biggest result of this civil war wasn’t which line of succession won out but that at the end the Targaryen’s greatest claim to the Iron Throne was lost, the dragons. This factor alone has repercussions down to the time of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire in which dragons return to the world.
“The Princess and the Queen” is not like other ASOIAF related short stories, like Dunk & Egg, this is a vivid retelling of history of events that surprisingly do connect with George R.R. Martin’s main series as well as the novellas of Dunk & Egg. As a fan not only of ASOIAF material, but also an avid reader of history I really enjoyed this piece by Martin, even though it is actually much less than he originally wrote of the events of this time. But because of the heavy lean towards male characters in a collection focused on dangerous women, there is some downside.
Nora's Song by Cecelia Holland
Young Eleanor, or Nora to her large family, is enjoying being a little noble born girl exploring little creeks and grass with her little sister Joanna when her big brother Richard founds her so they can greet their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. But this day starts the process of how Nora views her family, from how her parents treat one another and how they scheme behind each other's backs and how they treat her siblings then her. For those how know history, the dangerous woman in this story is well known yet seeing from the pov of a child it's well down.
3 1/2 STARS
My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott
A husband and father slowly begins looking at his wife's behavior differently than he had previously in their relationship after their daughter goes missing. As newspaper reporters and the police officers begin questioning his wife's story, only ever so slightly does he begin to think she's responsible. Then suddenly one night she remembers details that had slipped her mind and soon they are reunited with their baby daughter. But one night he walks into his daughter's room to find his wife looking at her with an expression that makes him very worried. This is a great story with several twists at the end as to whom is the dangerous woman in this story.
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale
Marvin gets beatin' up by some neighborhood bullies and is saved by an old man, after doing some working out during the summer he confronts them again only to get beatin' up again. Once again the old man saves him and decides to have Marvin for someone to work out again. Over the course of time the old man becomes like a father to Marvin and it's to the old man that he turns when Marvin's mother choices her boyfriend over her son. Throughout the story the old man gives information to Marvin about an upcoming wrestling match he has with an old rival, Jesus, and the reason two old men are fighting. A woman, a seductress, and possibly one with mystical powers. The story is great, but the 'dangerous woman' only appears at the end and sits to watch the match with only one line.
Neighbors by Megan Lindholm
Sarah Wilkins sees her now crazy neighbor Linda Mason walking out in the middle of the night in her slippers talking about going away and asking Sarah to go with her. After refusing Sarah never sees Linda again and begins thinking about how much their neighborhood had changed while battling her son about her living situation. Soon Sarah starts noticing how different the neighborhood is in the fog and who appears out on the street in the night. Sarah begins battling her children about her own future and decides to head out into the fog to find her own path and surprising Linda. A good story, yet the 'dangerous' of Sarah is questionable.
2 1/2 STARS
I Know How to Pick'em by Lawrence Block
This story was a tease from beginning to end and frankly, it does not have a dangerous woman. Although Lawrence Block could argue semantics, I would respectfully disagree. The narrator is a man, the "dangerous woman" turns out to be nothing of the sort.
"Raisa Stepanova" by Carrie Vaughn
A female fighter pilot for the Soviet military fights for her country, her family, and herself against the Fascists and the Party. This dangerous woman at first only finds herself fighting against the Nazis and in a quasi-rivalry with another pilot, who beats her to becoming an ace. But Raisa's military career is suddenly in jeopardy when her brother goes missing in action, which to Comrade Stalin means he's a traitor. Suddenly Raisa is desperate to either earn esteem to spare her family or die in combat so her family will be taken care of because of their heroic daughter. Not only is this a "woman in a man's world" situation that is very believable, the action from Raisa's point-of-view in the cockpit gives the reader a glimpse into the action.
Throughout the later part of 1999, many programs were dedicated to showing the impressive change in the 20th Century over any other time in the previous 1000 years. Author Ian Mortimer thought this was presumptuous and decided to research to find which century of Western civilization in the previous millennium saw the most change. In Centuries of Change Mortimer presents the fruits of over decade worth of research to general audience.
From the outset of the book Mortimer gives the reader the scope and challenge about defining and measuring change, especially when focusing in specific 100 year periods. Avoiding the cliché answers of bright, shiny objects and larger-than-life historical figures from the get go, Mortimer looked for innovations of cultural, political, societal, and technological significance that fundamentally changed the way people lived at the end of a given century than when it began. Throughout the process Mortimer would highlight those inventions or well-known historical individuals that defined those innovations of change which resulted positively or negatively on Western civilization. At the end of each chapter, Mortimer would summarize how the ‘changes’ he highlighted interacted with one another and which was the most profound in a given century and then identify an individual he believe was ‘the principle agent of change’.
The in-depth analysis, yet easily readable language that Mortimer wrote on each topic of change he highlighted was the chief strength of this book. The end of chapter conclusions and identification of an agent of change is built up throughout the entire chapter and shows Mortimer’s dedication to providing evidence for his conclusion. Whether the reader agrees or not with Mortimer, the reader at least knows why he came to those decisions. When coming to a decision about which century of the past millennium saw the most change at the end of the book, Mortimer’s explanation of the process in how he compared different periods of time and then the results of that process were well written and easily understandable to both general readers and those from a more scholarly background, giving the book a perfect flow of knowledge and thought.
Centuries of Change was geared for the general reading audience instead of a more academic one. While I do not think this is a negative for the book, it did allow for those editing the book as well as Mortimer in reexamining his text to miss several incorrect statements on events and personages that while minor do to missing a word or two, just added up over the course of the book.
While looking at the progression and development of Western civilization is always a challenging process, Ian Mortimer’s Centuries of Change gives readers glimpse of how different types of innovations impacted just a 100 year period of time. Very readable for general readers and a nice overall glimpse for more academic readers, this book is a thought-provoking glimpse in how human’s bring about change and responds to change.
Upon the ascension of Jesus Christ, the focus of sacred history turned to the men he entrusted with spreading the message of the Kingdom of God to Jew and Gentile across the world. The Acts of the Apostles the penultimate volume of Ellen G. White’s Conflict of the Ages series in which the rest of the New Testament through the lives of the Apostles in how they were transformed into preachers and leaders of the new church and how they spread the World, upheld faith, and corrected error. In a little over 600 pages, the events in the book of Acts and the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Epistles and the book of Revelation are revealed in the context of sacred history.
The Acts of the Apostles presents the events of the book of Acts in an in-depth in how the Disciples of Christ became Apostles for truth and how Saul the persecutor became Paul the Apostle. As in in the Bible, the focus for much of the book is on the conversion of Paul and his ministry to both Jews and Gentiles on various missionary trips. At the beginning, the Church focused on presenting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to the Jewish community as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy until the stoning of Stephen and shift to the Gentiles through the Holy Spirit and total rejection of the Jewish leadership. Throughout the discussion on Paul’s ministry to Jew and Gentile alike, the events surrounding and leading to his writing the Epistles that are contained in the New Testament are examined and the principles and lesson within them expounded upon. After Paul’s death, the lives of Peter and John are examined to enlighten the reasons surrounding and the lessons taught in their own Epistles to the church. And John’s time on Patmos in which God revealed to him through prophecy the culmination of sacred history.
The Acts of the Apostles is the fourth volume of the five-book Conflict of the Ages series and the last to fulfill cover Biblical events. This book shows the change in the character of the disciples to become champions of Christ and how a persecutor was transformed into proselyte, both show to believers raised in the Christian faith and those from without that Christ works to change everyone willing. In the last chapter, Ellen White transitions the scope of the Christianity from the Biblical record of sacred history to the events after the life of the Apostles done to her own day and then the climax of The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.
The first true novel, Don Quixote, has impacted not only the literary world but culture and society the globe over for over 500 years. The masterpiece of Miguel de Cervantes blends fantasy, romance, sarcasm, and parody in such an amazing way that it has captured the imagination of generations over and over again no matter where they lived. The adventures, or misadventures, of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza have made them icons for beyond anything Cervantes might have thought possible.
The narrative of the events of the knight-errant Don Quixote’s three sallies is widely known, though more so those in Part I than those of Part II. However, while the adventures of the windmills and the battle of the wineskins and Sancho’s blanketing are the best known it the events in Part II that truly show the modern narrative arc that Cervantes was only beginning to display in Part I. While Quixote and Sancho’s hilarious misadventures are just as funny in Part II as in Part I, through the challenges for Bachelor Carrasco to snap Quixote out of his madness and the machinations of the Duke and Duchess for their entertainment at their expense a narrative arc is plainly seen and can be compared to novels of today very easily.
Although the central narrative of Don Quixote is without question a wonderful read, the overall book—mainly Part I—does have some issues that way enjoyment. Large sections of Part I contain stories within the story that do no concern either central character but secondary or tertiary characters that only briefly interact with Quixote and Sancho. Throughout Part II, Cervantes’ rage at another author who published a fake sequel is brought up again and again throughout the narrative arc that just lessened the reading experience.
The cultural footprint of Don Quixote today is so wide spread that everyone knows particular scenes that occur in the book, mainly the charge towards the windmills. Yet Cervantes’ masterpiece is so much more than one scene as it parodies the literary culture of Spain at the time in various entertaining ways that still hold up half a millennium later. Although reading this novel does take time, it is time well spent follow the famous knight-errant Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza.
2016 is at an end and frankly I'm surprised how I finished the year. Instead of just reading 54 or 55 books for the year, I finished with 58! Personally I believe I completed 7 books this month to actually break my personal best total for books read. My total for pages is officially 27606, which if you remember my November update I had already passed by old record.
As for 2017, well given the last year here on BookLikes I'll be doing more stuff on my Wordpress page than here. If BookLikes makes a comeback then I might show up here more. Anyways, have a Happy New Year...
Within the realm of alternate history literature and scenarios, World War II is particularly prominent for fiction authors and historians to ponder on. In The Hitler Options: Alternate Decisions of WWII, ten military historians—which included book editor Kenneth Macksey—looked at scenarios which could have changed the course of the war towards the Third Reich and its Axis partners against the Allies or that the Allies could have decided to the detriment of the Nazis.
The scenarios ranged from the decision to invade England soon after the end of the Battle of France to the Axis securing the Mediterranean before turning to the Soviet Union to linking up with the Japanese to focusing on a jet fighter instead of a jet bomber. While eight of the scenario focused on decisions benefiting the Nazis, two focused on decisions the Western Allies could have made to fight the war differently. The two Allied focused scenarios, “Through the Soft Underbelly” and “Operation ARMAGGEDON”, were among best written in the book along with the Nazi focused “Operation SPINX”, “Operation WOTAN”, and “Operation GREENBRIER”.
While the five other scenarios were just as interesting, the style the author chose to write them undermined their overall effectiveness to some degree especially when compared those scenarios cited above as. Then ten scenarios came up a total of 216 pages, which came out to just barely 20 pages per scenario when excluding maps used for each. This short length for each scenario to be developed in my opinion hurt some of the less impressive scenarios and could have added depth to some of the best as well.
Overall The Hitler Decisions is a good book for those interested in alternate history, especially concentrated around World War II. Yet, there are some drawbacks with the relatively short length average of each piece that hurt some of the scenarios along with stylistic choices.