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review 2018-01-05 00:31
Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past - Ray Raphael

The story of the American Revolution is well known and thought of as gospel by average Americans, but is that story more myth than history?  Ray Raphael in his book, Founding Myths, aims to tell the true patriotic history behind the stories told about the American Revolution.

 

Investigating thirteen prominent stories surrounding the Revolutionary era, Raphael attempts to put the actual people and events in context of their time while demythologizing the past.  Some of the stories are that of individuals like Paul Revere, Molly Pitcher, and Sam Adams or such events like Yorktown ending the war, the Continental Army surviving Valley Forge, and the events before Lexington and Concord.  While a few myths that Raphael covered have been demystified by some pop-history documentaries since before and after the publishing of this book and others that a well-read history enthusiast already knows are false, there was one that completely surprised me and that was the events of 1774 that led up to the Lexington and Concord.

 

Although I knew the actual history behind the myths Raphael covered, this book was still a pleasant read if you can persevere through the repetitious references to films like The Patriot and Raphael’s continual hyping of the Massachusetts revolution of 1774.  While I understood the reference to The Patriot given its prominence around the time of the book’s writing but it could have been toned down.  Raphael’s description of the events in Massachusetts in 1774 are really eye-opening but he keeps on bringing them up throughout the book and given he already written a book about the subject before this one it makes it feel like he’s attempting to use one book to sell another.  Finally, Raphael’s brings up how the mythical stories he is writing about are in today’s textbooks in each chapter and while I think this was book information, it might have been better if he had moved that into his concluding chapter alone.

 

Founding Myths is fascinating reading for both general and knowledgeable history readers which is a credit to Ray Raphael’s research, yet there are pitfalls that take some of the joy out of reading this book.  While I recommend this book, just be weary of the repetitious nature that I described above.

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review 2017-12-19 22:16
This is bona fide angst
Grendel - John Gardner

I have to assume that a large majority of you studied the epic poem, Beowulf, when you were in high school. If you recall, this is often cited as the oldest example of an epic poem in Old English and it tells the story of the hero, Beowulf, who comes to aid a king who is plagued by a monster known as Grendel. It goes on to discuss Beowulf's homecoming and his continuing adventures (with a dragon no less). All I remember of the poem was a fight in a cave. (Clearly I was unimpressed with this work's historical lineage.) So it might come as a surprise that when I saw Grendel by John Gardner I was intrigued by discovering that it was a kind of retelling of the poem in narrative format...from Grendel's point of view. Straight out of the gate, this was an absolutely bizarre piece of literature. I came away from it thinking that it was too cerebral for me (Farewell hubris!) because there were many times I felt like I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I think part of this lies with the narrative style which mixed Old English language (like the original) with contemporary phraseology (curses galore, ya'll). I was nearly tempted to reread Beowulf for reference. (Spoiler alert: I didn't.) This is a philosophical novel that ponders the nature of existence and what it actually means to be 'good' or 'evil' because for something to be truly 'good' there needs to be a corresponding 'evil' to balance it...right? Grendel is a classic example of an antihero but boy does he jaw on and on and on about his place in the universe. I found him bitter and whiny but I don't know if that's due to characterization or if it's the author's 'voice' projected onto the character. I guess I'll have to decide if I want to read more of Gardner's works to find out the answer. It's hard for me to sum up my feelings on this one other than to say it wasn't an especially enjoyable time and I don't know who I'd recommend this one too because it's very niche. It's a 3/10 for me.

 

What's Up Next: The Great Questions of Tomorrow by David Rothkopf

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin (and also Scythe which apparently I'm never going to finish)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-16 02:52
The Girl in the Tower
The Girl in the Tower - Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden does not disappoint with this second installment of her Winternight Trilogy. It seamlessly continues the story of Vasilisa as she strives to find a place for herself in a world that does not take kindly towards change and independence, despite its desire to forget the unfathomable traditions of the past. While this is a book where the charm of magic and pagan mystery tries to maintain a steadfast hold, it also does not shy away from the very personal issues of identity and belonging, as well as delve into the broader concerns of power, politics and duty.

I think that duty becomes one of the main conflicts within this story, as the characters begin attempting to reconcile their sensibilities and personal wishes with the eventual need to follow through with the tasks and responsibilities they are expected to fulfill. This holds true for both women and men, as the reader witnesses with both Vasya and her brother Sasha, as well as many of the other characters met over the course of the novel. The reader is also presented with the alternative, the individuals who have already had to assume their respective roles, forced to learn to adapt and derive a sense of pleasure from the various situations within their control.

There is a lot of truth presented in this book, and Arden does not attempt to provide simple answers to many of the questions and issues that arise. Magic can only go so far in supporting the natural order of things.

This is truly an excellent work, and I personally can’t wait for the next installment.

Copy provided by NetGalley

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review 2017-10-03 00:00
Myths, Moons, and Mayhem: Paranormal Gay Ménage and Erotic Romance
Myths, Moons, and Mayhem: Paranormal Gay... Myths, Moons, and Mayhem: Paranormal Gay Ménage and Erotic Romance - Dale Cameron Lowry,Rebecca Buchanan,Elizabeth Coldwell,Rhidian Brenig Jones,Morgan Elektra,Greg Kosebjorn,Clare London,Carl Redlum,Rob Rosen Book – Myths, Moons and Mayhem
Editor – Dale Cameron Lowry
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 212
Cover – Gorgeous!
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Erotica, MMM, Menage, Paranormal, Supernatural, Romance


** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine


This collection combines two of my favourite sub-genres within the LGBT genre: Paranormal and Romance. On top of that, it provides an equal measure of authors that I am and am not yet familiar with.

WARNINGS: Contains stories that involve possession, animal sex (not beastality, as it's between three consensual werewolves), and cheating.

~

Inside Man, by Clare London

★★★★★

POV: 1st person, one character
Length: 2-11%
Theme: Ghosts, Possession, Established Relationship

The story takes place in London and gets right to the point; ghosts can't touch themselves! Which, with Clare London's brilliant writing style gives you a kick to start off the story, then that little hint of just why it's so important to this particular ghosts; two hot men that he can't touch and can't even touch himself while watching.

I love the sincerity and reality of Benjy and Jake's problems and really love the simple, yet completely effective way that the ghost solves it. When Benjy finally sleeps and cries, it tore me up inside. The characterisation was just so good, even through a outsider's eyes that I knew and understood the stress and struggle he'd been under until then. To see Jake so understanding, so supportive, was just beautiful.

The ghost never gets a name of his own, but he doesn't really need one. I think that would shatter the illusion of him being temporary, of him being insubstantial and lost within his death. Yet, I love how much emotion he has, that he sees and feels everything. When he possesses Jake and Benjy, you can feel the relief of finally being real again, of finally being able to feel again.

Overall, a brilliant short about a couple who really needed that little nudge from a third, to save their relationship and their sanity.

Favourite Quote

“I want that. The visceral connection: the belonging again. I want to feel everything again as a living man. My need reaches out to the two men, as if with a mind of its own. I can't grasp them with my arms, but my senses ache to touch.”

~


The Secret of the Golden Cup, by Rebecca Buchanan

★★★★☆

POV: 3rd person, three character POV
Length: 12-25%
Theme: College, Magic, Archaeology/History

This was a really cute story about a professor who gets drawn into a world of magic that he didn't know existed and can't believe is as real, and dangerous, as it proves to be. Grover is your typical professor; stuffy, nervous and shy around the one student he can't keep his eyes or mind off. Yet, Dominic is that student and he's so much more than he seems; confident, forward, yet keeping the secret of a husband that works on campus. While Steffan is in the background, he's a bit more surfer-boy and laid back than either of the other two. When his POV comes around, that's when the story really kicks off. Steffan is the introduction of magic and the danger that goes hand in hand with it.

The fact that all three get their POV is a great idea, however it did feel less than equal. Grover took up the majority of the POV, with Dominic and Steffan only adding in one or two moments to explain the magic that was going on, and to explain their relationship before Grover was told later. I do love that Dominic and Steffan were on the same page about the seduction of Grover and that Dominic confessed to having a husband who was okay with any seduction that might proceed, before he did anything with Grover. Up until that point, I was worried that he'd end up being duped and that wouldn't have been any fun at all.

I have to admit, that I had some trouble starting the story, because the author tried to introduce us to a concept within the first page that really wasn't necessary at the time and ruined the flow. I actually had to re-read the first page a few times, wondering if I'd missed something. I'm talking about the paragraph of introduction to the Minoan Linear B Cup that – after reading the story – I understand was the way of introducing us to the main plot point, but could have been handled better. It was so off topic, at the time it was mentioned, and told in short, choppy statement sentences that had no relevance or explanation that it took me a few pages to really get into the story. The explanation could have waited until a few pages in, when Grover denies Michelle the chance to translate the Cup. That would have been a perfect introductory point, rather than on the first page, out of context.

Overall, I loved the historical, archaeological knowledge and the way it was used. I liked the magical element and how it brought everything together. I loved the hints of chemistry that we got to see between Dominic, Steffan and Grover, and how the story ended with an opening to continue somewhere in the future. I'd be intrigued to read more about these characters.

Favourite Quote

“Grover hated running. He had not run since his disastrous attempt to impress Timothy Grant by trying out for the track team in ninth grade. Now, he ran. Down the hall, down the steps, across the campus toward the library, Dominic and Steffan pounding along beside him. And the bee. He was fairly certain the bee was following too.”

~

When the Big Moon Shines, by Carl Redlum

★★★★★

POV: 3rd person, one character
Length: 26-35%
Theme: Werewolf, College Age

Right from the start, I felt sorry for Henry. He was so afraid of everything; his own room, his feelings, his senses, how his life had changed; and it was all because of a single moment he couldn't even remember. The characterisation is so well done that I already felt like I knew him and cared about him before the end of the first scene. Then when he stumbled across Alex and Bruce, the hope and fear were tangible.

It's a shame his parents treat him like a dangerous, unpredictable animal instead of helping Henry cope, but I could always understand their fear. Of him. For him. Their child had just turned into someone they didn't know or recognise anymore and they were doing everything they could, even moving, to try to keep him safe.

Wow, I totally have to admit that this is the first humanoid-werewolf sex I've read. They're fully wolf, but werewolf in a sense that they still have a fairly humanoid body, similar to the Underworld movies, so it's a little yiffy, but not downright animal-sex.

I loved that the story was more about Henry's journey towards answers than the relationship, though that was still hot and new and exciting. I also kind of like that it's left open about what the menage meant and how far it would go. It's a hopeful ending, one full of promise and excitement for the future.

Favourite Quote

“Bruce reached out his beefy mitt of a hand, Henry wanted to yank it up and lick it to see if it tasted as good as it smelled.”

~

Careful What You Wish For, by Elizabeth Coldwell

★★★☆☆

POV: 1st person, character
Length: 35-43%
Theme: Magic, Room Mates, Cheating

This was a cute story, but I just felt like something was lacking. Maybe because it all centered around sex. Maybe because there ended up being a real and a magically created version of the same character, both completely adoring Josh. Maybe it was the fact that Aaron willingly cheated on his boyfriend, because of a surprise revelation and a fleeting thought. I felt nothing real about their chemistry, though there wasn't much until they started having sex. For me, the plot was too thin and the sex too overpowering to give me the kind of characterisation and development of relationship that I wanted for these two. A decent story, but disappointing.

~

The Cave, by Dale Cameron Lowry

★★★★★

POV: 1st person, present tense, single character
Length: 43-60%
Theme: Expedition, Magic

As an archaeology nut, I loved the amount of detail and knowledge that went into this expedition, though it's not a field – sediments and lemurs – that I'm familiar with. It made the whole expedition feel like one of those old fashioned movies, like Solomon's Mines.

The plot was intriguing, being infused with both archaeological matter, magic and a whole lot of hotness, yet it wasn't over-your-head or bombarded by technical data. It was a fun, intricate plot that was easy to follow, easy for non-archaeological brains to follow, and with a really nice progression of chemistry.

All three characters – Ethan, Joseph and Mendrika – had equal weight in the relationship they shared, all sharing subtle hints about their interest. When it came to wielding magic, it was a really hot and spicy, but almost tender chemistry they shared. This was one of those romances where the truly magical moments where in the small slips of information that leaked through perfectly normal moments. A great story with great characters. I'd love to read more of their adventures.

Favourite Quote

“We're here to study biological evidence, not create it.”

~

The Endless Knot, by Morgan Elektra

★★★★★

POV: 3rd person, present tense, single character
Length: 61-73%
Theme: Halloween, Vampire, Werewolf

This was a fun, super hot, snippet of the life of two paranormal creatures who desperately love each other but are a total personality clash. I really love the way that Jackson and Rafael's history was shown through little snippets here and there, all in Jackson's recollections, yet with enough emotion that I felt the pain and hurt that had been caused. Then enters Beau, the hottest of the hot at a Halloween parade and they have the glue they need to keep them together; the balance to counteract how similar they are, adding a buffer they desperately need.

It's both a story of newly discovered love and a story about reconnecting with an old love that never faded. Sweet, hot and spicy, it had all the elements of a story that I love. Plenty of chemistry, great detail and characterisation, and lots of hope for the future.

Favourite Quote

“Their attraction has always been potent. No matter how many times it ends in bitter recriminations and crushing disappointment, the desire eventually drives them back to each other.
Yet their time together gets shorter and shorter, and the years in between stretch longer and longer.
Perhaps this will be it. The last time. When they walk away in the morning, maybe it will be forever.”

~

Squatchin', by Greg Kosebjorn

★★★☆☆

POV: 3rd person, one character (with one scene of alternative POV)
Length: 73-84%
Theme: Sasquatch hunt, Hiking, Loss

I liked the initial relationship between Jason and Dan; they had great chemistry and I liked that they were new together but had a rhythm already. I loved that Jason was this highly intelligent, reasonable guy who was searching for the Sasquatch, and Dan was just so head over heels that he was willing to go along with it, despite not really believing it. That was great to see.

The bit where I have an issue is when Martin enters the story. I found him really creep right from the get go, then they suddenly pounced on him while he was crying over his lost lover. Then, to make matters even more squidgy for me, he demanded that Jason f*ck Dan even though Jason said he didn't think he was ready yet; he literally ignored that comment and roared his demands, but it was eased away with Dan's POV thoughts that it was okay, because he was totally ready, anyway.

The last scene was a great addition, but I just didn't like Martin at all. I loved the two guys, Jason and Dan together, but it didn't feel right or natural to add in Martin, who I already didn't like. It was just too much about the sex, for my liking.

~

Celyn's Tale, by Rhihian Brenig Jones

★★☆☆☆

POV: sort of 3rd person, but sort of...I don't even know!
Length: 84-92%
Theme: Fae, Fantasy? or Historical?

This one didn't work for me and, despite a problem with continuity and the POV, I really can't put into words why. It just didn't feel right, to me. It didn't feel complete or properly explored, in terms of setting, description and characterisation. It may be a case that this writer and I just don't mesh and that's fine. It just bugs me that I can't figure out why I didn't enjoy it.

The POV confused me, because it began as a 3rd person, but fell into omni-present and then felt more like a storybook telling than any character's POV. There was also a continuity issue in that we're told that Celyn's parents will never see him again, then two pages later he's with his father in the pastures, meaning that they did see and speak to him again, at least one more time before he disappeared.

Other than those issues, I'm sorry to say that I can't figure out why, but it didn't work for me. I missed something in the characterisation that would connect me to Celyn or the two Fae, Taliaris and Cai, and I missed the world building that usually comes with this kind of fantasy style story. Maybe it's because it was too short for the type of story it needed to tell, I don't know.

~

Close Encounter of the Three-Way Kind, by Rob Rosen

★★★★★

POV: 1st person, one character
Length: 92-99%
Theme: Aliens, Alternative Future, Scientific Experiment

This was a hilariously cheeky switch on an age-old idea of aliens coming to Earth and taking over the world. Hot, funny and cute in places, it manages to be thoroughly entertaining while offering good characterisation and chemistry between all three.

And despite my tendency to wax lyrically about books/stories, that's all I need to say about this one. It was fun, hot and brilliant. I'd read it again any day and it was a perfect ending to the anthology.

Favourite Quote

“I turned to Hans and grinned. “You know, I watch you walk around your house naked,” I told him.
The smile rose northward on his face. “I know. It's why I walk around the house naked.””

~

OVERALL

Each story is a really nice length; enough to give the author time to delve into plot, characterisation and offer some depth to both, without being drawn out and overly long. Some of the authors I knew did an excellent job of reminding me why I love their work and some that I didn't know will be appearing on my bookshelf again, very soon.

Overall, it was a combination of interesting, alternative romance stories with a menage twist, with varying degrees of hotness, world building and length. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
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review 2017-09-27 16:23
Jefferson Lies by David Barton
The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson - David Barton,Glenn Beck

This book was challenging to listen to, and I can't imagine it is any easier on the eyes in its physical format. Although there are some great points made about how modern writers often misinterpret history, the writing style in general was repetitive to the point of being condescending. Even worse, some of the faults Barton (rightly) accuses other authors of, he is just as guilty of himself.

 

People who do not study history think that it is boring and simple. They are not aware of the heated debates that take place over motives and personalities. Thinking history is nothing more than a list of dates, they discount it as insignificant. If this book does nothing else, it disproves this thought regarding history.

 

Was Jefferson an atheist, racist, rapist, *add in the negative term you have heard applied to Jefferson here* - or was he a forward thinking, brilliant Christian man unfortunately limited by the world in which he lived? The answer, of course, would fully satisfy nobody at either extreme because Jefferson, like most everyone else, was a complex man not able to be fully defined by simplistic labels.

 

Barton gets a few things completely right. Modern writers do transpose their own worldviews onto historical figures and try to force them to fit into it. They do look at one written line or one spoken comment and draw drastic conclusions from them. They do try to use historical figures as props to hold up their modern ideas despite the fact that we have no idea how they would truly react to our current situation.

 

Unfortunately, Barton also gets a few things wrong. He tries to paint such an overwhelmingly positive portrait of Jefferson that he dismisses evidence contrary to his ideas just as much as those he speaks against. He states repeatedly that Jefferson was unable to free his slaves through his will due to Virginia law, which is easily disproved in about 30 seconds online. Yes, a law similar to what he describes existed, but it was not as restrictive as he makes it out to be. It was a painful exercise to listen to the author attempt to clear Jefferson's name as a 'racist' while admitting that he owned slaves his entire life.

 

This is the problem with trying to force our modern views upon historical figures. In truth, Jefferson really was forward thinking in his attitudes toward blacks, but he still lived during a time of legalized slavery. He did free some of his slaves, and he did hire free black men for various positions and held them in high esteem....but he also owned slaves. This is a way of thinking that we can't reconcile in our modern mind without trying harder to understand the 18/19th century way of thinking. Anyone calling Jefferson a racist or trying to exonerate him is not really trying to understand who he really was because it's just not that simple.

 

I did appreciate the section of this book explaining more detail about the so-called 'Jefferson Bible' and clarifying Jefferson's attitude toward faith & the church. The fact that freedom of religion has evolved into freedom from religion in the US leads to many misunderstandings of Jefferson's feelings and objectives in this arena.

 

This book unfortunately is not a good source on Jefferson due to the half-truths & exaggerations that are made. Some previous knowledge is required to be aware of where the author is taking liberties with the subject matter.

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