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review 2018-04-09 19:31
A History of Canada in Ten Maps (Shoalts)
A History of Canada in Ten Maps: Epic Stories of Charting a Mysterious Land - Adam Shoalts

This work of popular history by a young man who is a "modern explorer" himself is understandably chiefly centred around exploration maps of territory now within Canada's boundaries. It has a fairly informal tone, but full scholarly apparatus. I enjoyed the thoughtful preface and afterword material, and the summaries of the exploits of various famous explorers were highly readable, with many interesting anecdotes. I also thought the tone successfully avoided any suggestion of hero-worship, and also acknowledged in a timely way the major contributions of named and described indigenous allies and collaborators, some of whom, as expedition members, ventured nearly as far away from their homes as the Europeans or Canadians they assisted. The main disappointment of the volume is one that was presumably out of the author's control: the reproductions of the maps, although coloured and glossy, are constrained to too small a size by the book's standard format to be really enjoyed. A coffee-table format would have been better (but probably too expensive). One of the chief victims of this shortcoming is the Thomson map (one I am very familiar with, having worked alongside the original for many years), but that huge, faded map would likely have been chiefly illegible even in a much larger reproduction: it is largely illegible close up, in its original.

 

This is not groundbreaking history, nor is it really cartographic analysis, though there is some discussion of the history and techniques of cartography in the preliminaries. It's a sesquicentennial project, aimed at a general audience, and, if my quite vivid recent memories of its tales about the Vikings, about Cartier and Champlain and Hearne and Mackenzie and Thomson and Franklin, are any indication, it has certainly done its job of raising awareness of the role exploration and mapping played in the early definition of the boundaries of the state we now call Canada. The roles of other forces (war, politics and statecraft) are, legitimately I think, largely left aside. As others have remarked, the one chapter on the Fort Erie battle during the war of 1812 seems a little forced and out of place. But then military history is not something I read with pleasure in any case.

 

Shoalts also seems to be quite an interesting guy, and I recommend a browse through his website after finishing this book.

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review 2018-03-27 23:25
Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote - Susan Zimet
I received this book for free from the publisher (Viking Children’s Books) in exchange for an honest review.

Prior to reading this book I knew quite a bit about the suffrage movement in the US. I had read Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis when I was in college and that book went into great detail about the complexity of the movement.

What I loved about this book was that it did not shy away from discussing Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s racism nor did it try to justify it. The author writes, “To justify her racism as simply ‘commonplace’ for her time ignores the fact that there was nothing commonplace about her at all. Stanton, one of the true heroes of this story, was deeply flawed and sadly wrong when it came to matters of race” (63-64).

Sprinkled throughout the book are little sidebars with biographies of key women and other facts pertaining to the movement. I found these to be incredibly insightful and helpful in explaining the movement.

This book is middle-grade (the recommended age is 10 and up) and I think it did a great job describing the history of the suffrage movement in an easy-to-follow way. Everything was explained in kid friendly language, so this book is perfect for the intended age group.

Overall, this book is a perfect introduction to the women’s suffrage movement that doesn’t sugar coat the truth.
 
 

 

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review 2018-03-06 19:02
Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell - My Thoughts
Tyrant's Throne - Sebastien de Castell

I finished this a few days ago and promptly got sidetracked and forgot to write up my thoughts!  And it's not because it wasn't good,  because it was GREAT! 

In this, the fourth book of the Greatcoats quartet, the tale of Falcio, Kest, Brasti et al comes to its finale and my goodness it's not what you'd expect.  :)   And just when you thought you knew everything about the land of Tristia it turns out that you knew next to nothing!  *LOL*  I felt like Jon Snow there for a bit.  :)  But what we discover... mama mia, it opens the door to all kinds of musings and ponderings!

I found this book a little more serious, a little deeper than the previous three and I wonder if that's down to us being inside Falcio's head as everything gets turned upside down and sideways.  Probably. But despite that, there was still the humour, still the swashbuckling, still the larger than life characters that I've grown to love over the past books. 

So I loved the way that Sebastien wrapped things up.  The adventure, the politics, the ethical conundrums, the brotherhood, it was all there.  And the ending was perfect even if just a wee bit open-ended.  THAT made me happy, the hope of seeing our faves again. 

I still love Brasti beyond all belief, I really think he's my favourite character.  Brasti, Monster and the latest addition, Chalmers - my God, I fell in love with Chalmers! 

Anyway, incoherent as this is, I loved this book, I loved this whole quartet of books and I thank Sebastien de Castell for writing them!

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review 2018-03-02 15:02
Legend of Love: Muse of Epic Poetry - Callie - Lisa Kessler

Book two in the Muses series brings us Navy Seal, Hunter, and the psychologist, Callie. He is sent to her after a rough mission, but he has no interest in talking and getting his head examined by an "old man". When he discovers that his doctor is a beautiful female he still doesn’t want to talk about how his mission went wrong but he does want to go out on a date. Callie holds out strongly and stubbornly, but Hunter draws her in and when she discovers he is her Guardian it makes it even harder to resist his charm. As they grow closer, the Kronos Worshipers single Callie out as their next victim and it is up to Hunter to keep her safe. I enjoyed their story. The Order of Kronos is a bit weak for the bad guys. The members are part of a big oil conglomerate and yet they have to brain wash someone in order to make him fanatical enough to murder without question. They need to be more ruthless and aggressive. They come off as a bit passive compared to the strong protagonists in the story. Other than that, I enjoyed book two as much as book one. Looking forward to reading about Reed next.

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review 2018-02-03 17:05
A marathon fantasy epic
The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

This is the first of a projected ten book epic fantasy series by Sanderson. I'd been holding off on starting it because I wanted him to get a few more books under his belt. He has now released book three, Oathbringer, and my husband finished his massive listen of the entire Wheel of Time series and was looking for a new fantasy listen to keep him occupied while he remodels our master bathroom, closet & bedroom, so I bought the audiobook to go along with the print book and decided to listen along with him while I stitched/quilted.

 

It did not turn out to be a great listen for me - I find that I struggle with listening to extremely long books, and I often end up switching to the print format because I can move so much more quickly through the story. That's exactly what happened here - I switched out the listen for a reread of Agatha's The ABC Murders, and read this one on my kindle fire.

 

This is an epic fantasy, with all of the tropes and tells that sort of book requires. There's world-building! There's magic! There's heroes being subjected to terrible things! 

 

I've read a lot of Sanderson - his entire Mistborn series (both his first trilogy and the second series, which has more of an "old west" vibe) and his YA series The Reckoners, starring David Charleston, killer of epics and purveyor of misplaced metaphors. I would note, just as an aside, that The Reckoners is a family favorite - my husband, my 21 year old daughter and my 17 year old son all found it to be great fun. I find his books to be competently written and well-paced. This is also true of The Way of Kings

 

He's written an interesting world, with mostly likeable characters. One of his strengths is his ability to build a world without engaging in a lot of info-dumping, which makes jumping into a new series a bracing experience. You just have to take it all in and wait for it to come together.

 

I did jump into Words of Radiance, which is book 2, which I have also finished. Post to follow.

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