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url 2016-12-25 05:00
My Fiction Nook - Best Of 2016 Reviewer's Choice
We've compiled our lists of Best Books We Read In 2016. Come check out our choices, and let us know your favorites. You might even win a giftcard! Happy Holidays!!
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review 2016-11-02 23:16
Who Travels with the Doctor?
Who Travels With the Doctor?: Essays on the Companions of Doctor Who - Gillian I. Leitch,Sherry Ginn

I received this book for free though LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

 

Since Doctor Who took to the air over 50 years ago, his companions have been the audiences view into his adventures.  In the 10 essay collection Who Travels with the Doctor? the role of the companion is examined from various viewpoints as a character, as a mirror on the Doctor, as a reflection on the audience, gender roles, and many more ways. 

 

In the introduction the book’s editors by Gillian I. Leitch and Sherry Ginn, who also contributed, conceded that the most studied companions in the volume were from the “New Who” era than “Classic Who” but many of the more famous or infamous were included as well.  The essays early in the book look at companions as a group before really focusing on individual companions.  While getting an overall sense of the makeup of companions and their collective reactions to the Doctor is an important facet of examining them, the early essays came off as dry and laborious without really engaging the reader.  Studies on gender roles—in which one acknowledges the debate surrounding Steven Moffatt’s alleged misogyny—are then the focus and only really click when making case studies of characters.  It’s when the essays turn to studying companions themselves that the writing and arguments seems to make an impression.  Essays about Sarah Jane Smith & Jo Grant, Rory Williams, and River Song are three of the strongest in the book.  The last two essays of the book about “the companions who weren’t” and “companions in print” finish off the book on a strong note.

 

With the admitted focus on “New Who” companions as well as current showrunner Steven Moffatt as a result, the essays in which these factored heavily did not fully address the current state—as of 2014—of the show itself.  As a fan and watcher of Doctor Who, one of things I found increasingly irritating and impacting my experience in viewing is the lack of a coherent narrative over the course of a season (series in UK).  While this complaint would be an essay itself, to me the biggest factor in how current companions are viewed is not only how they are written but the quality of stories they are in.  To me this was a missing dimension in the early essays in the book when they discussed the Moffatt era in particular and why I found early essays laborious, they weren’t address a key issue.

 

However my thoughts about the issues in the first third of the book; the latter two-thirds is where this book of essays takes off and makes the reader think.  Yet even without a good fundamental grounding when look at companions on a whole, the study of them individually is undermined.

 

 

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review 2016-09-14 17:27
Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit that Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War
Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War - Ben Macintyre

I received this book for free though LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

 

During World War II many military strategies and tactics that are today standard around the world were first pioneer, including behind-the-lines special operation as done by the British Special Air Service (SAS).  Ben Macintyre in Rogue Heroes relates the birth and evolution of the SAS from an ‘independent’ army in the North African theater to an integral part the Allied campaigns in Europe against Nazi Germany.

 

Macintyre’s history of the SAS begins with the man whose idea it was and who shaped it during its first years in existence, David Stirling who used his connections and his desire to actively participate in battling the Germans.  Early on Stirling and his brigade went through several phases of evolution of tactics before fully becoming what Stirling had conceived in mid-1941.  However, after Stirling’s capture in January 1943 and the change in theater, the SAS temporarily became a regular commando unit in the invasion of Italy before returning to their behind-the-line Special Forces status original purpose later in the Italian campaign and on the Western Front during and after D-Day.

 

The decision by Macintyre to not focus on all of the missions of the SAS, but only those that influenced and impacted the development of the Special Forces unit as well as to reduce repetitiveness in the book was a good one.  The decision help keep the book at a readable length for the general reader, however other choices by the author didn’t make for a smooth read.  While Macintyre did his best to cover the efforts of the various SAS squadrons across several theaters and locations within each once as well over the course of the war, at times the division and abrupt changing from one situation to the next made for stilted reading.  Another important decision by Macintyre was who within the SAS to highlight and follow over the course of the brigade’s service in World War II.  And for the most part, Macintyre did a good job on putting the focus on who needed it but some of the soldiers highlighted seemed to just add flavor for no real purpose than to seemingly check off a list of possible people this book could appeal to.

 

Overall, Ben Macintyre did a very good job in relating the history of the SAS.  Unlike writing a biography or a specific event, a history of a military unit with its change of personnel and changing theaters of battle make it harder to write as the author has to decide who to follow in the unit’s development.  Rogue Heroes if anything gives the reader at least a general history and career of the World War II-era SAS, for some it will be enough and for others it’ll be a wetting of the appetite.  I would recommend this book to those interested in military history or in World War II over than just the general reader as a whole.

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review 2016-05-14 04:15
Jefferson's America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation
Thomas Jefferson: The Adventure of America - Julie M. Fenster

Expeditions that Began Defining the American West

 

I received this book for free though LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

 

Early in history of the United States, the new nation found itself in a cold war not against a nation across the ocean but across the Mississippi river and the Floridian border.  In Jefferson’s America, Julie M. Fenster relates how Thomas Jefferson first as Secretary of State and later as President battled with Spain to define the borders of the United States before establishing a claim on the West which would define the future of the country.

 

Almost a century before the United States and Spain actually fought a war; the two nations could have fought a war over Louisiana which could have been the legacy of Thomas Jefferson’s administration instead of the territory’s purchase.  The Louisiana Purchase was not the event that stopped this war; it only made the likelihood more probable as the southern boundary of the territory was undefined and both nations claiming different demarcations of their respective territories.  Jefferson’s solution to both keep peace and stake a claim on the West for the United States was exploration.

 

The journey up the Missouri, over the Rockies, and to the Pacific Ocean by the Corps of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark is thought today to be the expedition that claimed the West for the United States.  While that much heralded journey is chronicled in this book, Fenster also brings forth the effects by other explorers to study the geography of the Mississippi and southern rivers like the Red and the Arkansas.  Men like Thomas Freeman, William Dunbar, Zebulon Pike, George Hunter, and Andrew Ellicott brought their own talents and personalities in exploring the frontiers of the United States and helping Jefferson make a political claim to those frontiers.

 

The book as a whole is well researched and overall Fenster does give the reader an view of the little known history behind the first great expansion of the United States, however there are issues that do not make this an easy read.  Firstly, the first quarter of the book is rather dry and could discourage some readers who would be impressed with the later three-quarters of the book.  Fenster took a chronological approach to her writing and detailed several expeditions simultaneously when they overlapped, while I didn’t have a problem with this particular set up and approach there was a drawback in that Fenster did not transition from one to the other that well which at times forced the reader to stop for a few seconds to stop and reread a sentence or two to denote when Fenster was switching from one expedition to another.

 

Upon completing Jefferson’s America, I found it instructive on this period of the Early Republic in not only the national and international situation but also the experiences that the explorers faced as they traveled around various points in the West.

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text 2016-04-16 12:40
Top 1% of Reviewers at Goodreads...

I think everyone who received the 1% commendation posted theirs already. I'm a little late- just been busy with baseball season and life in general but thought I'd go ahead and post mine too. Congrats to all those in the Top 1% but I think all reviewers deserve a round of applause for their time & efforts! Nice job everyone!   

 

 

 

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