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review 2020-04-30 12:43
First Templar Nation
First Templar Nation: How the Knights Templar Created Europe's First Nation-state - Freddy Silva

by Freddy Silva

 

Non-Fiction

 

This is a historical record of the rise of the Knights Templar, but the author tells us in his opening notes that he writes it in the form of a novel to make it more engaging than many historical accounts tend to be, and in this he largely succeeds, though it sometimes slips into academic treatise. Even then it holds interest. It gives a detailed history of a time before we had the European countries as we know them today, when they were small duchies that would eventually form the nations of Europe.

 

It is well researched and provides maps of the European continent as it was in the year 1080 A.D., when the Holy Roman Empire covered much of the land. One of them is a close-up of the county of Portucale, which will become the country of Portugal as a result of the history about to be told. This history begins with a decree from Pope Urban II in late 11th century that gathers various factions of rabble together and calls them Holy Knights, then sends them off to do a land grab in the Arabic countries because Christians believe certain locations to be theirs by God's will.

 

There is more detail to the political situation with Turks killing pilgrims and access to sacred sites beset by Bedouin raiders as well as payments demanded since 1065. In just the first couple of chapters, the causes and reasoning behind the Crusades becomes clear and is told in a way that holds interest.

 

The book is professionally notated and would make a great reference source for anyone looking for information on the rise and background of the Templars or the history behind the Crusades. I personally found it fascinating and an enjoyable way to increase my knowledge of this area of history.

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text 2020-04-23 19:55
Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 432 pages.
Prince Of Fire - Daniel Silva

Installment 5 in an ongoing series. I checked out book 6, and I only have 13 days left on the checkout. That'll teach me to put a hold on a book before I've read up to that book.

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text 2019-11-21 19:47
Misc Christmas Books Round-Up
Little Elf Ray Saves the Day - Ross Hammond
Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy - Maxine Sylvester,Maxine Sylvester
How Pidge Saved Christmas - Chad Baucom,Lera Luzhanskya
The Advenutures of Nature Nate and Chompy's Christmas Tree - Kristy Hammill,Micah Hoeschele,Evgenia Dolotovskaia
My Teacher is an Elf - Joey and Melanie Acker
Never Let a Unicorn Meet a Reindeer - Diane Alber
The Night The Elves Took Back Christmas - Rachel Burlew,Lucas Silva
The Mouse in the Hammock: A Christmas Tale - Bethany Brevard
A Silly Milly Christmas - Sheri Wall
Christmas Friends - Uncle Amon
The best of the bunch is Never Let a Unicorn Met a Reindeer which is totally great. Adventures of Nature Nate gets a nod for poc. Ronaldo's story is good. Christmas Friends is nice. If you have a dog you will like Silly Milly.
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review 2019-01-20 15:37
Audio Book Review: Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel - Sam... Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel - Samantha Silva

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

A November warm day, Charles Dickens is lost in writing his next adventure for Chuzzlewit. However, his publishers show up. Chuzzlewit is not selling and they have an idea. They "suggest" Charles writes a short Christmas book. With a ghost. And it's scheduled to be read on Christmas Eve. Charles doesn't like the idea, but finds his family has become use to a style of living and he likes to make donations so in order to continue with life as they know it he'll have to write the Christmas book he doesn't want to write. His feeling of the book idea seeps through into his life and he'll have an eye opening season.

I've never listened to Euan Morton until now. I found I enjoyed his proper sound and accent from the beginning. It fit for the time setting and people present in the book. I felt as though I was sitting, drawn to his voice, listening to him tell me a Christmas story. Euan also gets to voice parts of Christmas Carol at the end as well. So well done with all the voices. Euan has the tone that fits a Christmas story, perfectly.

I adore Charles's interaction with his kids and wife. There is so much love there, and they have fun. But Charles always wants to give them everything, which helps drive home that his chapters for his current adventure isn't doing as well. This is what starts to drive a wedge between him and his family.

As Charles lives his life, after learning he will lose money if he doesn't do the Christmas book, you see sparks of what influences A Christmas Carol. He tries to teach his children there is more to Christmas than toys, in a means to try to "cut back". It doesn't go well, but there is truth in his words and a hint of what will come in his book he'll ultimately end up writing. I understand Charles's worries over income. He's seeing how his family lives and his attempts to "cut back" are squashed at every try. Though, in his families defense, they didn't know what he was trying to do or why. So, he decides to write the Christmas book.

Charles seems to struggle to find his own way through Christmas. He grows frustrated by the threat of losing income, and that his family has grown to love spending so much (they don't realize it). He tries to point out others and needs at this time of year, but it goes unnoticed or acknowledged. He wants his kids to see more in the holiday than what they get. Charles starts to lose his way and the feel of the holiday while frustrated with events around him. Charles goes looking for his muse to get through. This book is Charles living his own Christmas Carol, while crossing flashes of the story to come.

Samantha has taken an old tale and sprinkled it into the life of the original creator, creating a new story of her own with links to the original story. There is also history drizzled in for our enjoyment. Samantha touched on emotions in me. There were a few places that I smiled, but she did have me tear up as well. It was toward the end and with Timothy, of course. But it was the moment that felt right, like Charles was starting to make that last turn to himself again and even feeling better about himself. Then, in the end, I did cry. Such a great moment to be brought to.

This book felt true to the characters present and was a wonderful Christmas Carol rendition to highlight Charles Dickens. Wonderful story.

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text 2018-08-26 23:51
A good read filled with excitement!
The Other Woman - Daniel Silva

The Other Woman, Daniel Silva, author; George Guidall, narrator

Gabriel Allon is the head of Israel’s Intelligence Service. While attempting to extricate a double agent from Europe, something goes wrong and the agent is murdered in cold blood. Although it was a clandestine effort, somehow a video surfaces which seems to show a blurry, identifiable image of Allon. Soon another murder of an agent in Europe, points a finger at him. The world, always ready to accuse Israel, once again jumps on the event to point fingers at the head of the Israelis for what they believe were planned murders, not attempts to save the lives of the Russian moles who had been turned to help them. As Gabriel Allon sets out to find out who set him up and why, the plot really thickens involving the British, the Americans and the Russians, as well.

Silva writes with a clear hand, creating tension and excitement on every page. The story is sometimes confusing as it jumps around a lot, and there are many characters from many countries popping up in various scenes. The story takes the reader back to the days of Kim Philby, the most notorious Russian agent planted deep in the British Intelligence service for decades, rising almost to its pinnacle. As the threads of his betrayal are revealed so are the betrayals of many others. Philby’s legacy lives on.

The reader is excellent. He never gets in the way of the novel and always accurately portrays each character with his accent and tone of voice. This is a great beach read or an entertaining accompaniment on a long drive.

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