October 31st, 2018

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Weekly Book Review

Continuing in the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, we come to:

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

        Who steps in to aid Santa and the rest of the Christmas Delivery Team when events do not go as planned? The answers are found in Santa’s Heroes. A varied assortment of individuals, ones you could meet on the street and those that exist only in your imagination help Santa through many adverse situations. Unlikely helpers include a cowboy and his horse, sled dogs that can fly, and the United States Marine Corps Reserve. In this relatively small volume we also learn much of how Santa accomplishes his yearly task. How does he fit presents for a world of children in one bag? Why does no one ever catch Santa in the act of leaving gifts, unless it is meant for one to see him?

         Santa’s Heroes is a delightful book, suitable in my opinion for anyone capable of reading it.  One might also read it, a story or chapter at a time, to pre-schoolers.  Yet it has qualities that make it worthwhile for adults to read.  Older readers with a sentimental heart will feel their eyes water in places.  Goodness, cooperation, and happy endings prevail.  It is a feel good read.

         Santa’s Heroes, ISBN 978-0-9788507-3-9 was originally self-published by Robert L. Manion.  A newer edition, ISBN 978-1-936178-09-4 had been published by Gray Dog Press and retails for $13.00.

Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

        Santa’s Heroes is a collection of light hearted, fanciful, and imaginative tales about Santa. Mr. Manion tells behind the scenes stories of Santa and his other friends, and it is full of wonderful, rich characters. There’s Sydney, the little girl who visits Santa’s Village in her dreams (and apparently we all can) A lonely cowboy with a big heart, flying sled dogs, a missing penguin egg, last minute panic when the gift count comes up short, and even a mischievous Leprechaun to please us Irish folk. The best part, though, is finally learning the secret about how Santa gets all those gifts into one bag. Don’t try to get me to tell you. I’ve keep the secret of The Sixth Sense to this day, I’m not likely to be bribed to tell this one.


Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

        Saving Tir Gaeltacht (Tcheer GAUL toc) is the story of four siblings and their cousin who step through a portal into a strange new world; a world of discovery and adventure. With their bond-mates--a Dragon, a Gryffin, a Winged Horse, a White Stag, and a Giant Wolfe--they soon discover they are here to save this magical world from the evil queen who rules it, and eventually they go to war to help restore the kingdom to its rightful ruler.
         Poitevin has written a wonderful, exciting story with well-defined characters and a great ending, which does not disappoint. I liked that she listed the cast of characters, with a little information on each one, and had a pronunciation guide at the end of her book. I would recommend this book for sixth-graders to adults or younger if read aloud. There is so much to this story that you will want to read it over and over again.
         Available at Auntie's, Hastings on Wellesley and East Sprague, Amazon, and Kindle.

Reviewed by Sue Eller

         Kate Poitevin weaves an adventure for children of all ages and skillfully entwines the modern world and a timeless one. She paints a vivid picture of life in an old Celtic realm and makes her readers feel as if they could step into the book and be transported there themselves. Rich with descriptions of the places, the people, and the other inhabitants of Tir Gaeltacht, the story itself moves her characters through situations common to us all, and gives them – and us – a chance to learn and grow.
          Available at Hastings Books in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Auntie’s Book Store in Spokane, amazon.com, and the trunk of Kate’s car.

Reviewed by James Parry

         An epic fantasy destined to become a classic.  Ms. Poitevin immediately pulls the reader in.  She fully develops each character, so much so that I felt as if I knew each personally.  And the same with the setting:  It was as if I had actually alighted in this Celtic land with the child warriors - and their bond-mates.
         Beautiful, descriptive writing with a great ending.  Reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Would make a wonderful movie.
Reviewer Mallory Battista said it best:  “If the Harry Potter series and the Boxcar Children series got married and had an Irish fairytale, she’d read something like this.”

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         On a summer camping trip, four children go on a dragon hunt with their grandmother.  When a portal opens, they step through and immediately meet… a dragon.  Thus begins the adventures of Taylor, Jordan, Zach and Zayne in the magical world of Tir Gaeltacht.  That Celtic based world is in great danger and Taylor is expected to save it.  Later joined by their cousin Gabe, they pair up with the dragon, a Gryffin, a flying horse, a giant Wolfe, and a white stag.  With the help of people they meet, they set about rescuing the land from the evil queen’s clutches.
         I remember, as an elementary student, teachers reading stories to the class, a little every day, usually as class resumed after lunch.  This is the ideal story to read in such fashion.  It is long and complex enough to last for an entire semester, if not the entire school year.  Third graders and beyond would find it exciting to visit the world Ms. Poitevin creates each and every day.  Because I read on my lunch break, I digested this tale took in much the same way, a little bit each day.  As I progressed through the story, I found myself not wanting to put it down and anxiously awaiting my next reading session.  Although I was anxious for the plot to be resolved, I did not want the story to end.
         Besides being an exciting story, Ms. Poitevin weaves in a great deal of Celtic/Gaelic culture, customs, and legend.  Saving Tir Gaeltacht is available from amazon.com in hardcopy and on Kindle™.  It is also available in select Spokane area book stores and from the author herself.

(This book has recently been reissued/republished as three separate volumes.)

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Weekly Book Review (Another Bonus)

I'm trying to catch up on posting my reviews of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower Saga.
Here is my review of the second book, counting in order of Hornblower's life and career.
Once again, I don't have any cover pics for these books.  This is my painting entitled "Evening Anchorage"  It depicts ships from a time before Hornblower, perhaps the mid 17th century.

Lieutenant Hornblower

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

            A Royal Navy ship-of-the-line bound for the West Indies, captained by a man believing his lieutenants conspire against him, provides the setting for the second tale of Horatio Hornblower.  While the junior most commissioned officer aboard, fifth lieutenant to be precise, Hornblower’s exemplary performance saves the day for HMS Renown and her crew.
            Insisting mutiny is afoot; Captain Sawyer searches for his lieutenants, hoping to catch them in an incriminating situation.  In fact, they are meeting to deal with the captain’s increasing paranoia.  Warned, they scatter, and in his haste to arrest them, Sawyer falls down an open hatchway.  How he fell is never fully addressed, and Hornblower will only say that “he fell.”
            With the captain injured, incapacitated, and now completely insane, Buckland the first lieutenant takes command.  Urged by Hornblower and the other lieutenants, he reads the captain’s secret orders and sets about completing the seventy-four gun warship’s mission.  When a first attempt results in failure, Hornblower suggests immediate follow-up action, surmising the enemy would not be expecting it.  In fact, throughout the book, it is Hornblower’s tactful suggestions to his superiors that enable them and Renown to have any measure of success.
            This book is unique amongst the eleven Hornblower novels, with Lieutenant William Bush being the focal character of the story, and we witness Hornblower’s feats through his eyes.  We also see Bush’s opinion of Hornblower grow until he holds his junior in highest esteem.          As great a story teller as he is, Forester sometimes misses the mark regarding technical issues.  In describing the lower gun deck of HMS Renown, he mentions seventeen thirty-two pound guns per side.  A British third rate of the time would have had fourteen or perhaps fifteen guns per side on that deck.  There is also some confusion as to which cabin was the captain’s, and subsequently the location of the wardroom.
            Today it is natural to compare the book with Mutiny and Retribution, the two made-for-TV movies based on this novel.  The films remarkably convey the tale to the screen in spite of many changes.  Most noticeable is the appearance of characters from the earlier Hornblower movies, and in particular, the presence of Lieutenant Archie Kennedy.  Neither he, Sir Edward Pellew, nor any of the hands from Mr. Midshipman Hornblower are present in the written version.  The movies also dwell more on Sawyer’s medical condition, potential recovery, and desire for vengeance after his injury.
            Unlike the book in which a simple court of inquiry investigates the Captain Sawyer’s death, the films present a full-fledged courts martial, complete with confession as to who apparently pushed  the captain into the hold.  The film ends with this admission, Hornblower’s loss of a close friend, and his promotion to Master and Commander, captaining Retribution.  The book, however, continues with Bush’s and Hornblower’s eventual reunion in England during the Peace of Amiens.  Still seen through Bush’s eyes, the reader becomes aware of Hornblower’s poverty, lack of influence, and bad luck in not having his promotion confirmed.  Bush also becomes privy to Hornblower’s beginning domestic life.
            In Lieutenant Hornblower, C. S. Forester has once again told a complex story in a compelling, simple, and straight forward manor, making it a tale very much worth reading.
            Lieutenant Hornblower was originally published in the early 1950s.  The copy reviewed, [ISBN 0-316-29063-7 (PB)] was a paperback reissue from Back Bay Books in 1998, priced at $13.00 US.