Title: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates
Author: Brian Kilmeade
Page Count: 304
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 2015/Sentinel
Review: This was a very interesting book. I hadn’t heard about any naval battles the US took part in during its infancy, so I was surprised when I came across this book. Kilmeade goes into Jefferson’s struggles in keeping American ships from being taken over by pirates once the US lost the protection of the British Navy. No longer flying the British flag, the American ships were free game to the Tripoli pirates; no deal had been struck to pay the pirates off to assure ships could pass in safety.
No spoilers for the rest of it, you’ll have to read that for yourself.
I would have liked there to have been more discussion on Jefferson’s more problematic aspects in the beginning, but I understand that it probably wouldn’t have fit with the narrative flow very well. That, and given the author’s political stance, I don’t think he would have anyway.
I would still recommend it, that’s for sure. It was well written and engaging and I enjoyed reading it.
Title: Washington’s Spies
Author: Alexander Rose
Page Count: 402
Publishing Date/Publisher: December 2007/Bantam
Review: I don’t have too much to say about this book, to be honest. I enjoyed it and I also didn’t. It was interesting but also not. It lagged a little too much to recommend highly, but I don’t want to discourage people from reading it at the same time, if that makes sense.
It was informative, that’s for sure. I learned a lot about the use of spy rings during the Revolutionary War, which is something I hadn’t even thought before: it’s not like we go into detail about it in school. But reading about how they developed their codes for letters and the danger they put themselves under was interesting.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about this book that makes it interesting and not at the same time, but it is. It’s the Schrödinger’s cat of books. So I recommend it, but simultaneously don’t recommend it.
Title: The Atlas of Disease
Author: Sandra Hempel
Page Count: Unavailable
Publishing Date/Publisher: 4 October, White Lion Publishing
Review: This is a book that will only appeal to a certain group of readers, but since I am in that group, I found it fascinating. Sandra Hempel offers a concise history of various diseases that have plagued the Earth for centuries (and in some cases, millennia), and writes in a very clear manner. It’s not bogged down with too much academic terminology, making it accessible for the general public, not just those studying the topic.
The structure of the book itself is amazing, and the maps are so informative. Hempel includes old drawings/political cartoons of the diseases, which helps show the historical impact of the disease. She also doesn’t focus too much on one disease; each chapter is relatively short, yet still provides a great deal of information. It takes a great deal of talent to be able to have something be in depth and short at the same time.
Bottom line: if you like to study history and disease, this book is for you.
Title: Killers on the Flower Moon
Author: David Grann
Page Count: N/A
Publishing Date/Publisher: April 2017, Doubleday
Review: I loved this book, I kept recommending it to everyone. David Grann has a very unique way of writing, and it flows so well. The history itself is compelling and tragic at the same time, and Grann does a great job at highlighting the injustice Native Americans faced at the hands of both the government and the general public.
Grann detailed the history of the Osages and how they came to be the richest people in the world, as well as the history of the FBI, excellently. It was very interesting to read about how the FBI started investigating murders- something we associate with them so much today thanks to TV shows like Bones.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Native American history or their treatment in the early parts of the 1900s.
Title: The Assassination of Robert. F. Kennedy
Author: Tim Tate and Brad Johnson
Page Count: 352
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2018, Thistle Publishing
Review: This was a very fascinating read. Tim Tate and Brad Johnson clearly put so much time and research into it and while it sometimes gets a little bogged down with the details, it is always clear that they are so passionate about this topic. Their explanation of the events that took place on the night of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy is very plausible- I would say I completely believe it, but I want to read more about it before being absolutely sure. I try not to form my opinions on just one book/article and their arguments are clearly formed and back by facts and data, it’s just that in this day and age we need to be careful of what we believe straight off the bat. I will definitely read more about this in the future.
The one main downside to the book is that it really leads the reader into what they want them to think, rather than letting the facts fend for themselves. This was clear from the onset, with the blurb on the cover stating what they believed and planned on showing, so it wasn’t a big betrayal or anything like that, it just would have been nice to arrive at the end conclusion by myself instead of having my hand held.
Title: Cowboy Pride
Author: Lacy Williams
Page Count: 252
Series: Wild Wyoming Hearts, Book 3
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 28, 2017 by Lacy Williams Book LLC
Review: This book was terrible. The only reason it was not a DNF for me was because it was selected as the Big Library Read by my library. I finished it through pure will and determination.
Although a Pride & Prejudice fan, this book did not translate well as a Western. I don’t know if this is because of the author’s writing style, or because the setting just didn’t work.
I really do not have much to say about this one, except I would never recommend it to anyone, especially not a diehard Jane Austen fan.
Title: The Bird and the Blade
Author: Megan Bannen
Performer: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 10 hr, 17 min, 3 sec
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Harper Audio
Review: This book surprised me. I checked it out on my OverDrive app on a whim because it was available. I gave the brief synopsis attached to it only a cursory glance, so I knew very little diving into it. Very quickly into the reading, I knew that the story sounded vaguely familiar. As I listened a bit longer, I realized that it was an adaptation of a story I had heard before. Although I had some inkling of how it would end, I was intrigued to hear the story from the point of view of a slave girl.
What immediately drew me into the story was how cleverly the author organized it. Each part of the tale peeled back a new layer, and details that had at first seemed minor carried greater significance as more back story was revealed. By the end my heart was pounding and although I knew the outcome, I was still eager to see exactly how it played out.
My favorite part about the novel was how carefully the relationships were developed. The story is told from the point of view of Jinghua, a slave girl with a mysterious past. Jinghua is plain in appearance, but others value her for her intellect and spirit. She is beautiful on the inside, if not on the outside, and her actions throughout the story reflect that.
If I were to read this book again, I would probably read it in a different format. The performer had a tendency to exaggerate the waviness of her voice during dramatic scenes. I found this distracting, so I think I would have enjoyed the story even more if I had been reading it in a physical format.
I was so impressed with this book. It is a story of loss and love and sacrifice. It contained all the elements of a great story, and it was beautifully written. It is hard for me to believe that this was a debut novel. I look forward to whatever else the author has in store.