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review 2017-07-02 15:24
Review of the Conquering Tide by Ian Toll
The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 - Ian W. Toll

Ian Toll is one of my favorite writers of history.  His book Six Frigates on the founding of the United States Navy rans of one of my all timers.  This book is the second of what will be a trilogy focusing on the U.S. war in the Pacific during World War II.  I liked the first book better because I think I enjoyed the background stories of the major players and the countries more than I enjoyed the descriptions of the military battles.  Also, Pearl Harbor and Midway were very interesting stories for me.  I enjoyed this book, but felt that most of the battle blended together and it was difficult to distinguish them in my mind.  The writing was still outstanding, and the background stories were still the best part, but there were fewer of them as most of it was covered in the first book.  Still highly recommended and I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy in the next year or two.

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review 2017-04-07 14:43
Cape Cod and the Islands: Where Beauty and History Meet by Kathryn Kleekamp
Cape Cod and the Islands: Where Beauty & History Meet - Kathryn Kleekamp

This book was so much more then I expected when I requested it through NetGalley. I thought I was going to get a quick walk through Of Cape Cod and some pictures. What I got was a full on history, lots of pictures, drawings, paintings, and some fantastic recipes.


The book was written very well and kept my attentions. There are short but very interesting write up about each aspect of Cape Cod and the surrounding Islands. How it all began, about the major towns, the Indians, the cranberry's, the fishing, and oh so much more. Everything you ever wanted to know abut Cape Cod and things you never thought of as well are in this book. It does not read like a boring history books either. The passages are short and filled with information, and you move on to the next subject before you get a chance to be bored, but not so fast it makes your head spin.


There recipes are amazing. I made the Strawberry Breakfast Bread last night as our dessert since I had all the ingredients in the kitchen. It was so good, my husband loved it. There is also a recipe for Cranberry Tart I will be tackling soon. There are other non dessert recipes as well.


This really is a fantastic book if you live in or near Cape Cod or will be visiting. or if you are just like me and love to travel via my easy chair.


I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-02-16 00:00
The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes
The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelag... The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes - Malachy Tallack,Katie Scott The title of this book refers to a very specific type of island; not one that is yet to be discovered, but one was believed to be real at some point but is no longer on the map. These are the products of imagination, deception and simple human error. They are phantoms and fakes: an archipelago of ex-isles and forgotten lands.

Gathered in this book are two dozen islands, each covered in a 3-4 page mini-essay within one of several categories:
- Islands of Life and Death
- Setting Out
- The Age of Exploration
- Sunken Lands
- Fraudulent Islands
- Recent Un-Discoveries

To be fair, some islands could appear in a cross-section of these categories, and one cannot envy Tallack the choices he had to make when dividing these islands. And the book itself, while not going too deeply into the history of each island as to lose the reader, also offers an interesting cross-section of information, from geography, to myths and legends to, of course, history.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!
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review 2017-01-16 19:11
Enchanted Islands, by Allison Amend
Enchanted Islands: A Novel - Allison Amend

From the Tournament of Books longlist.


What a hot mess. Judging from reviews on Amazon, I'm in the minority with that opinion, but I found it difficult to follow protagonist Frances Conway's arc through the story. There's a huge gap between her 16 and 50-something year-old selves, decades briefly highlighted, and the two did not connect for me. Frances/Fanny goes from naive teenager to something of a resigned spinster in few pages. I never quite caught up from that whiplash.


The novel spans Frances's whole life, from child of Jewish immigrants in Minnesota, to Chicago with her best frenemy, Rosalie, to a farm in Nebraska, then onto California where she works at the Office of Naval Intelligence peri-WWII and is eventually asked to marry officer Ainslie Conway and move with him to the Galapagos Islands, where there are an awful lot of Germans (an awful lot for such a small, wild place), to engage in spycraft. The book's title indicates that this period will be the story's focus, but it comes in much later than expected. The first third or so of the novel therefore feels like it's treading water as we follow Frances and Rosalie's friendship, their "break-up," and reunion years later in San Francisco. I wish the book had been either larger, to more fully explore Frances's journey, or shorter, narrowing in on the time on the Galapagos.


I never came to care much for any of the characters or to get a grip on Frances and her shifting emotions. Add to that some cliche prose (though, judging by the highlights, often the very moments other readers found profound) and bizarre, unbelievable (even when true) additions to the plot, such as FDR's non-appearance of an appearance and the fact that, oh, by the way, Frances wrote some books (Enchanted Islands is based on a real person who did in fact live on the Galapagos and write about her time there, a fact which I learned only after completing the novel and doesn't excuse the haphazard way in which her writing is introduced), and you have a novel that I periodically considered dropping. Each time I'd think, "But I've already read this far, and I want to get to the Galapagos," or, "I want to see how this spy stuff plays out and what happens with Frances and Ainslie." I should have trusted my instincts and quit after the second eyeroll.

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review 2016-08-10 00:00
The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands - J.M. Synge,Tim Robinson The Aran Islands by J.M Synge is a remarkable and insightful read of life on the Aran Islands From 1898 to 1903.

Having just returned from an amazing 2 day trip to the Islands I was eager to read this remarkable little book that had been recommended to me by one of the Islanders. .

Synge, in his relatively short life helped revolutionize Irish Threater, was a poet, prose writer, musician,playwright and collector of folklore. He spent part of his summers for 5 years on the Aran Islands collecting and documenting stories and customs and traditions of the Islanders and the end product ( this little book) is a remarkable and important collection of information and folklore.

This is not a story but rather a series of journal accounts as the author says in his introduction

" In the pages that follow I have given a direct account of my life on the Islands and of what I met with amoung them, Inventing nothing , and changing nothing this is essential"

There is so much that I found intriguing and insightful in this account, the way of life and the hardship of the Islanders, the bleak and harsh and yet stunning landscape, the tradition, stories, food, clothing and the religion and beliefs are so interesting and I came away with a better understanding of their life and struggles at this time.

While everything has changed on the Islands with modernization , nothing has changed like, landscape, remoteness, beauty, quiet and those rugged and stunning stone walls and ruins. I loved the fact that after stepping foot on the island you can hire a bike and within 5 minutes be utterly by yourself and step back in time.

I loved this book and can't stop thinking about it, I would recommend it to those who have an interest in folklore and history of Ireland. It's not for everyone but I can see many enjoying this and at 208 pages is not very taxing.
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