October 25th, 2018

steer between them!, Helm

Weekly Book Review

Today we are continuing our run down the list of reviews on the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers' web-site.  As the first up is fairly short, we'll make it a two for one day.   In doing so, it turns out my second book, Sailing Dangerou Waters comes up!
Rogue 6

by Col. Chuck Lehman

Reviewed by Sue Eller

Air Force Captain Rusty Markham is sent on a mission to shoot down his childhood friend, who is flying an F-106 fighter plane to Cuba to turn over to Communist dictator Fidel Castro. Set in the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis and an uneasy peace between Cuba and the United States, agencies and countries on both political sides focus on the chase.
Lehman begins near the end of the tale and uses the tension and conflict to keep the reader engaged as he weaves back story and relationships in ever more complicated detail. The author’s first-hand knowledge of the planes, the techniques, and the lingo bring a realism to the story that makes it hard to believe it’s fiction. The values of duty, honesty, integrity, and friendship sometimes seem to war against each other, while an unexpected element tweaks the outcome.

Sailing Dangerous Waters:
Another Stone Island Sea Story

D. Andrew McChesney

Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

        Sailing Dangerous Waters picks up where Beyond the Ocean’s Edge left off. Equally well written, I continued to love/hate the characters accordingly, and was present as they explored and settled into the new world, made new friends and got caught up in the local politics. I was frustrated along with Pierce and his men as they strove to make ready to return to England.
        Mr. McChesney is a talented writer who can make you smell the sea air, feel the deck roll beneath your feet, and even duck and cringe and cover your ears at the sounds of cannon. He really must get that third installment out.
Reviewed by Sue Eller

        Captain Pierce misses his beloved Evangeline, and tries everything in his power to get back to her. He leaves Stone Island to return home, but his plans and hopes are thwarted by an enemy who should have been a friend. Pierce struggles to understand an unfamiliar government dynamic, uses all his diplomatic skills to try to get his ship released, and makes some unexpected friends along the way. Sailing Dangerous Waters continues the Stone Island Sea Stories as McChesney captivates the reader and draws him in to another thrilling adventure.
Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

        It's the early 1800s. Captain Edward Pierce of the HMS Island Expedition and his crew, who are thought to be pirates by the Tritonish Government, have been held captive for a year.
        When they are finally freed, Edward's hope is to leave this parallel world and sail home to England. He is anxious to see Evangeline, the love of his life, who he hasn't seen for three years. But before they can leave, their ship needs to be repaired.
        After repairs are completed, they are on their way. However, their journey is a dangerous one, for England and France are still at war. They have a fierce battle with a French ship and Captain Pierce is shocked when he discovers who the captain of this vessel is.
        Eventually, Edward and his crew arrive home. Edward worries that no one will believe his stories of the strange, but similar other world, he and his crew discovered beyond the ocean's edge.
        Sailing Dangerous Waters, the second of the Stone Island Sea Story series, ends with Edward and Evangeline meeting to discuss their future. Much has happened since they last saw each other, especially in Evangeline's life.
        McChesney spins an exciting story with lots of detail and action. His characters are well-defined and interesting. He is very knowledgeable on naval history. He has a good command of the language of the time and knows how a ship and its crew works.
        I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it for one and all.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Weekly Book Review (Bonus)

I've mentioned lately that I'm reading C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series again.  All in all this is probably the sixth, seventh, or even eighth time I've read them, dating back to my high school days when I discovered some of them in the school library.  These are the stories that inspired the original version of what has become the Stone Island Sea Stories.  The last time I read them I ended up writing reviews of each book, and yes, I've posted them here from time to time, but I thought I would post them again as I read them again.  So here is the first of them.  (Please note, I do not have cover art for this or any of the Hornblower books.  I've included my painting entitled "All Plain Sail."  It is a typical United States Frigate of the early 19th century, and it just might represent USS Delaware, the ship at the center of Forester's The Captain From Connecticut.)
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            While not the first book C. S. Forester wrote about Horatio Hornblower, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower details the beginnings of this famous fictional character’s career in the Royal Navy.  Beginning with his seasick arrival aboard HMS Justinian and a duel with an overbearing senior midshipman, it ends with his commission as a lieutenant and subsequent release by Spanish captors.  Along the way he transfers to HMS Indefatigable, a prize vessel sinks beneath him, he overcomes a fear of heights on a cutting out expedition, is involved in a disastrous attempt to invade France, and in a fog sails his vessel into the midst of the Spanish fleet.  He progresses from an inexperienced and melancholy lad to a young man capable of meeting any challenge and overcoming all obstacles placed in his path.  Yet Hornblower constantly exhibits that most basic of human frailties, a lack of confidence in his own abilities.  Throughout the book he struggles to overcome his perceived failings and do what he sees as his duty.  Along the way he develops and hones his abilities as a leader of men, gains an understanding of naval tactics and strategy, and furthers his analytical skills.
            The tale of Hornblower’s time as a midshipman is told in ten distinct, nearly stand-alone short story like chapters.  While a continuous story line progresses through the book, each tale is complete within itself.  It is possible to read them in nearly any order and not be extraordinarily confused.  References from one story to another are minimal and self-explanatory.
            As he usually does, C. S. Forester writes with a clarity that allows the reader to grasp the situation and follow the plot without difficulty.  However, students of naval history might catch a few technical errors.  In An Even Chance (The Duel), a Lieutenant Chalk is said to sport the single epaulette of a lieutenant, although this tale supposedly takes place when no officer in the Royal Navy was authorized such accouterments.  Later, when Hornblower goes before the examining board, someone remarks about midshipmen desiring a lieutenant’s commission and an epaulette.  By this time it is possible that Master and Commanders and above have been authorized wear of these devices, but it will be another decade or more before they are authorized for lieutenants.
            This book is the basis for the first four A & E made for television Horatio Hornblower movies, although several details are changed in making the films.  Some of the tales are combined, one or two are not related, and at other times the order in which they occur differs.  The Wrong War (the Frogs and the Lobsters) is the final story of the four movies, and Hornblower is finally a lieutenant.  In written form this action occurs near the beginning of his career, while he is still very much a junior midshipman.  The book ends with the story entitled The Duchess and the Devil, and Hornblower’s time is captivity is much longer than indicated on screen.
            In addition, many of the characters that repeatedly show up in the movies appear only briefly upon the written page, nor are they as prominent in the overall story as would be indicated on screen.  Nonetheless, many bits of dialogue are recognizable from one format to the other, even if at times they are spoken by different characters.  Having watched the films it is possible to picture the screen characters carrying out the action described in the book.  After reading the book, it is easy to recognize many of the scenes as presented in the movies.  This pleasant correlation might be attributed to the writing ability of C. S. Forester as well as the skill of those who developed his stories for the screen.
            No collection of the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester is complete without a copy of this book.  It is elementary in understanding the complexities of this unique individual as brought to life by Mr. Forester.
            Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was originally written in the late 1940s and published by Little, Brown and Company.  Back Bay books reissued it in paperback form in 1998, and at that time ISBN 0-316-28912-4 had a cover price of $13.00 (US).