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review 2017-03-19 15:52
Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) by Michael Jensen
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen



Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) is a blast of an historical fiction, m/m romance, horror novel!


Cole ("Cold-Hearted") Seavey meets up with the characters from Man & Beast (The Savage Land, #1) , out on the Ohio Frontier, circa 1799. (Namely John Chapman, (Johnny Appleseed), and Pakim, (our handsome Delaware Brave). Pakim rescues Cole after he finds him badly injured as the result of an attack. An attack from what is the question; especially after this creature begins to attack Hugh's Lick-the small settlement that is closest to John Chapman's claim.


Soon the reader is fully engrossed in the story of this town, its inhabitants and whatever the thing is that's hunting them. The characters are so solidly drawn, they're vivid in my mind. I was happy to see John Chapman again, (I didn't know that he was going to be in this one!) and Cole turns out to be anything but cold-hearted. He soon develops feelings for Pakim and together with John Chapman and others, they struggle to defend themselves against what Pakim believes is a Wendigo.


The real meat of this story was the mystery of the Wendigo. I have always had a fondness for creatures of legends of myth, and Wendigos are near the top of my list. Native American cultures are fascinating and so are the stories they told to each other. The author's research into these and into the norms and taboos of the white frontier-folk of the time really shines through and rings true.


With many exciting action scenes and twisty turns of the plot, Man & Monster turned out to be a lot of fun, even though it's wayyyy out of my wheelhouse. To me, it's always the story that is paramount, and in that regard, Michael Jensen delivers.


Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction, m/m romance, and HORROR!


You can get your copy here: Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2)


*I received a free e-copy from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* **In addition, I consider this author to be an online friend. This did not affect the content of my review.**

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review 2017-03-16 22:21
Podcast #38 is up!
John William McCormack: A Political Biography - Garrison Nelson

My thirty-eighth podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Garrison Nelson about his new biography of Speaker of the House John William McCormack (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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review 2017-03-13 17:50
The Speaker nobody knows
John William McCormack: A Political Biography - Garrison Nelson

John William McCormack's life was one defined by, and lived for, politics. Born in Boston, he grew up in poverty in the Irish Catholic neighborhoods in South Boston. Though he passed the bar without attending college or even high school, law was just the path to a career in politics. His ascent was a rapid one, as he went from his first election in to the state legislature in 1920 to Congress less than a decade and became majority leader after little more than a dozen years in the House of Representatives. There he enjoyed a complimentary partnership with Sam Rayburn that made them one of the most effective leadership teams in American history. Upon Rayburn's death in 1961, McCormack ascended to the speakership himself, from which he led the House of Representatives until his retirement in 1970.


Despite a career that encompassed some of the most legislatively important decades in American history, McCormack has never been the subject of a book-length biography until now. According to Garrison Nelson, this was in no small measure due to his efforts to cover up his father's background as a Scots Canadian, a detail that would have been fatal to his career in the ethnically-defined politics of Massachusetts in the early 20th century. This forms the cornerstone of Nelson's book, which situates McCormack's career in the context of the changing politics of his time. Delving deeply into the milieu of Boston Irish society, he sorts through the personalities and factions to show how McCormack navigated through the identity- and class-driven to claim his seat in the House. The skills he learned put him in good stead in the House, where Nelson attributes his success in winning leadership posts to his ability to build relationships with key Southerners such as the Texan Rayburn and Georgia's Edward Cox. As Nelson shows, straddling this divide became increasingly complicated over time, as the emergence of the civil rights movement and the rise of the liberal Democratic Study Group were a microcosm of the broader challenges facing the Democratic Party in the 1960s. Though McCormack's position was never seriously challenged, the connections he had forged with Southern congressmen opened him up to attacks from the left that complicated his time as speaker and damaged his reputation.


The product of decades of research, Nelson's book offers readers an impressive wealth of detail about Massachusetts politics and Congressional factionalism that makes it an indispensable source for anyone seeking to understand McCormack's political career, Boston Irish politics, and the mid-century Congress. Yet all of this is mashed together that makes the book itself less than the sum of its parts. While clearly a labor of love, Nelson allows his voluminous text to be burdened with repetition, with details repeated from chapter to chapter and sometimes even from page to page within them. Much of it could have been trimmed away to produce a leaner and more digestible text that would have given McCormack the book he deserves, but as it stands it is a book that is too weighted to serve as more than a resource for political junkies who are likely to be turned off by being reminded of minor facts with which they are already familiar.

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review 2017-02-28 16:47
Podcast #36 is up!
American Gandhi: A. J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century (Politics and Culture in Modern America) - Leilah Danielson

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Leilah Danielson about her new biography of the peace activist and labor organizer A. J. Muste (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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review 2017-02-24 17:48
Review: Ghostland: No Man's Land
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey
Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead - Christine Wicker

  I was quite excited to spend my monthly Audible credit on this book; what a fascinating idea--reframing American history by examining our relationship with our landmark haunted locales.


I, unfortunately, have returned it to Audible.


Each house is well-chosen: the Lemp mansion, for example, as a haunted touchstone in American history and culture...

and then debunked as an actual, or at least a full as-known haunting by the author. Chapter after chapter.


I hung on through the underlayer of smugness until the author stated repeatedly that Spiritualism didn't last, it was dead, it was no longer a thriving practice in the United States. Then I stopped reading. Why? I had reached the intolerable level of poor scholarship and research. There is an entire town of Spiritualists who live and work as such, in plain sight, and have done so for years: Lily Dale. Both a documentary and a book are available about Lily Dale, New York, and both are easy to find:


Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead * Christine Wicker


HBO Documentaries: No One Dies in Lily Dale


Side note: The author was also treated well by the Lemp Mansion's hosts, taken on their Haunted Tour, and given the choice room--one that is on the tour because it is reported to exhibit so much phenomena. His entire account of his Lemp tour and stay was mocking, in my opinion, disdainful of staff, location's history, and even his fellow tour group members! I feel as if I have been subjected to a history book written by a hipster: "Look, we're supposed to be enjoying this. OMG, all these people are really enjoying this! I cannot wait 'til I return to my cocktail and typewriter." Combined with the shoddy research, and some debunking claims without citations, this book is disappointedly unprofessional.


Also posted at The Dollop: American History Podcast

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