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review 2020-07-26 23:58
Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (The Last Lion #1)
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 - William Raymond Manchester

Before he became the face of the dogged determination in World War II and the voice of inspiration for the British people, Winston Churchill was a scion of a noble family looking to make his mark and coming close on many occasions.  The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 is the first volume of William Manchester’s biographical trilogy which deals with Churchill’s early life and his adventurous political career until he was shunned by power and entered the political wilderness.


A scion of the ducal Marlborough family, Winston Spencer-Churchill was the eldest son of a second son and his American wife.  Before even getting to Winston’s birth and life, Manchester paints the social, cultural, and political landscape he would be born into, be indoctrinated to believe in, and defend his entire life.  Throughout his life, Winston would use the connections of his parent’s friends and acquaintances to advance himself early in his career while a boon to his military and early political careers it hardly made up for the fact that both his parents were aloof to his existence even for the times of the British upper class.  Manchester relates Winston’s school misadventures and horrible academic record for the classical education expected off one of his station, but while he failed to understand Greek or Latin his “remedial” studies of English year after year would serve him the rest of his life as a journalist, author, and speaking in Parliament.  While he served in wars in the frontier of the Empire, first in India then in Sudan, and afterwards in South Africa he initially went there as a “journalist” but used his military rank to join battles or was recruited by the commander on the spot to lead men.  Upon the completion of the Boer War, during which he was taken prisoner and escaped, Winston entered politics in his eyes to take up his late father’s torch.  Once on the floor of the House, Winston’s speeches were events to be listened to and to be written about in the papers.  His familial connections got him in touch with the high circles of the Conservative party, but the issue of Free Trade and his own “radical” views on issues made him become a Liberal and soon found him apart of the new government the party form and would be until after the events connected with Gallipoli during the First World War resulted in him taking to the trenches on the Western Front.  After a return to a position in the Government, Winston soon found him edging away from the Liberal Party that was dying in the face for the rise of the Labour Party and soon returned the Conservatives to be among their new Government.  Yet the same tensions that made Winston leave the Party in the first place were still there but with more animosity but it was the issue of India sent Winston still a Conservative into the political wilderness that many of his political adversaries believed him to be finished, especially at his age.


In nearly 900 pages of text, Manchester not only details the first 58 years of Winston’s life but also the times he lived in while slowly setting things up for the final volume for the events in which he is most well-known to the public today.  There seems to be a bias by Manchester towards Winston that does make it through to the page instead of a little more balanced writing in places, however Manchester does not shy away that Winston’s views and words around the India issue essentially were racist even though at the time it was common thought by many in Britain.  Manchester gives balanced view of Winston’s relations with the working class while at the same time revealing why Labour and the press said he was against them.  The account of the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaign that is always blamed on Winston is given fully fleshed out including what actions Winston were accountable for and those he was not and why it was he that the failure was attached to.


Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 reveals the times and environment in which Winston Churchill was brought up and how they shaped him as he entered politics and attempted to rise to power.  William Manchester gives a full picture of a young then middle-aged politician whose life was a roller coaster that influenced the British Empire its domestic and foreign affairs, but never held ultimate power and seemed never to.  If one wants to know Churchill this book is a great place to start.

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review 2020-02-09 01:34
Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics by Alisa Kwitney
Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics - Alisa Kwitney

This slim volume features a selection of cover, trading card, and gallery art from DC Comics' now discontinued Vertigo imprint. A few of the series featured are ones I've read, albeit a very long time ago: Sandman, The Books of Magic, Black Orchid, Swamp Thing, Sandman Mystery Theatre. Most are series I've never heard of before, or heard of but never looked into enough to find out what they were about. I've been meaning to try Animal Man for ages, for example, but it still hasn't happened.

When I was in high school, I'd occasionally use my lunch period to go to a nearby comics shop and buy a few things. The store was arranged by publisher, with imprints getting their own subsections, and an odd "miscellaneous" section to catch anything by smaller publishers. I spent most of my time in the Marvel and "miscellaneous" sections (yay, Elfquest!), but my love of Neil Gaiman's Sandman prompted me to spend time in the Vertigo section as well. Although I never bought many Vertigo titles - I didn't have much money and didn't know which series I might like, and the store owner was so unwelcoming that I didn't dare ask him for recommendations - I loved the covers. They looked so different from the Marvel and other DC stuff.

I spotted this book during a shopping trip years ago and bought it with the intention of using it as artistic inspiration. Nothing ever came of that, but it was still nice looking at all the artwork and huge variety of styles. Each section has a little bit of text, normally something about the history of a particular series. Most of the artwork just has captions with the title and issue number if applicable, date, and artist, but a few include tidbits of info about the artists' style and, very occasionally, something about their technique or the medium used.

All in all, this is a nice collection of artwork. I wish there had been more text focused on particular pieces, though, and interviews with some of the artists would have been great.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-12-27 00:26
Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel
Visions of Sugar Plums - Janet Evanovich
Stephanie Plum, Book 8.5

I Picked Up This Book Because: Continue the series.

The Characters:

Stephanie Plum:
Joe Morelli, Grandma Mazur, Mom, Dad and surprisingly only one scene with Lula

The Story:

I can’t believe I managed to skip this but I’m caught up now. Stephanie is up to her old tricks trying to find an FTA but this time she has a supernatural sidekick by the name of Diesel. Roofs collapsing, cars burning up, you know the usual with Stephanie. It was a fun though slightly dangerous romp through Trenton.

The Random Thoughts:

I missed Ranger

The Score Card:


3.5 Stars
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review 2018-12-07 00:57
Divine Encounters (The Earth Chronicles #5.5)
Divine Encounters: A Guide to Visions, Angels and Other Emissaries - Zecharia Sitchin

The interaction between the Divine and man are considered some of the most important and inspiring moments within each of the Abrahamic faiths, yet the question always is who was the Divine?  Zecharia Sitchin reviews Divine Encounters throughout the ancient Near East whether recorded in the Bible or on cuneiform tablets in this companion volume to his series, The Earth Chronicles.


Through the first three-quarters of the book, Sitchin reviews numerous encounters that he has previously written about.  Among these topics are the Creation of Man (the “first encounter”) and the Fall, the sexual encounters between the divine and man, the Flood, and man’s search for immortality all with their own specific chapters.  Sitchin also covers visions, oracle dreams, and angels which he has previous mentioned and written about in his books, but never dedicated time to looking into them before.  Where Sitchin really covers new material is the theophany at Mount Sinai, discussing the Prophets of the Old Testament, and finally an essay in which Sitchin examines which Annunaki was the God of the Old Testament.


For those that have read most of Sitchin’s books before, the majority of this book is a review of the previous five books he had written at the time of the publication.  The only new ground that Sitchin covered was in the last quarter of the book in which he really examines Exodus, the Old Testament Prophets, and he examination of which Annunaki was the God of the Old Testament which resulted in a surprising conclusion especially for those reading this book for the first time.


Divine Encounters is a book geared for people who have never read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s work, but included material at the very end that was new for long time readers.  While I liked the new material, the fact I had to reread nearly 300 pages of topics I’ve read over the course of five books was annoying.  So if you’re a longtime read of Sitchin’s, get this book to complete your collection but read it last.  If you’re a first time reader of Sitchin, the vast majority of the book will give insight into Sitchin’s theories which are fully fleshed out—except what is covered in the last quarter of the book—in The Earth Chronicles series.

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text 2018-06-27 06:01
Reading progress update: I've read 338 out of 338 pages.
Visions in Death (In Death, #19) - J.D. Robb

Ack...did it to myself again. I should have been asleep nearly two hours ago, but I had to finish this. This is why I try not to read when I have to work the next day. I don't know when to stop.

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