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Thu, Nov. 15th, 2018, 03:29 pm
Weekly Book Review

Here are a couple more reviews from the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers' files.  It might interest you to note that I won a copy of the first book reviewed at my second ever meeting of SASP.  The author is no longer a member of the organization, but the two reviewers (myself included) are both current and active members.  (Sorry, but I don't have any cover image available to post along with these reviews of this book.)
By Patricia Campbell Kowal

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         As readers we often prefer a certain author, a certain genre, or a particular theme in our reading.  Many of us are loathe tostep outside of our preconceived and often narrow range of reading opportunities.  As bookstore customers and library browsers, we make many of our decisions based on the cover illustration and title.  It is a shame that we do, for often that story that does not appeal to us at first glance can turn out to be an inspiring and uplifting read.
         Such is the case with Stillpoint by Patricia Campbell Kowal.  Because of the title and the cover, my first assumption was that it was probably a little too feminine and a little too self-analytical for my reading tastes.  But, having won a copy of it at my second ever SASP meeting, and having had it graciously autographed by the author, I determined that I would read it, and that I would try to keep an open mind as I did so.
         Was I ever wrong regarding my first impressions of the story!  I found it to be a touching and emotionally moving story, nearly a lifelong “biography” of a very likable, believable, and yet fictional character.  The writing itself is clear, concise, and inspiring; qualities that allow the reader to progress steadily through the story without the need to reread or try to guess at the author’s meaning and intent. As with all exceptionally well written stories, I found that I lost track of my surroundings and was physically present, perhaps as a silent observer, in the events unfolding on the page.
         Stillpoint encompasses Sam Barsby’s life, from his childhood in Vermont, through a cross country hobo-like train trip during the Great Depression, his military service in the Pacific during the Second World War, and his migration to Australia.  It covers his times of great loss and sadness, as well as his moments of extreme joy and happiness.  The story pivots on that instant in Sam’s life when, with help of a Native Australian, he gently drives away the despair and agony of his suffering and begins to look forward to a continued existence.  This is his Stillpoint, that moment when directions change but there is no movement at all.  It is a rebirth, a renewal, and following this, Sam eventually returns to his boyhood home for one last visit.
         Stillpoint is a very well written, uplifting, and inspirational story.  I most strongly urge everyone to read it and to pass it along to others so that they might read it as well.
         Stillpoint was published in 2005 through Vantage Press, Inc. and at that time had a cover price of $12.95.  It carries an ISBN of 0-533-14782-4.
Reviewed by James Bartlett Parry
         Ms. Kowal skillfully weaves past with present in this intriguing romantic, tragic epic.  Through chapters that alternate time periods, we witness wars and other calamities between brief respites of love and happiness.  All of this happens through the eyes of several generations of the Barsby family.
         This style of writing is difficult to pull-off and, in many books, confuses the reader, but Kowal relates her tale in a skillful and seemingly effortless manner that truly makes the story flow.  She masterfully details the ambience of each location and era.
         The first page will draw you into Sam’s dreams of flying geese - that eventually take him on an odyssey around the world.  Brace yourself for a plethora of tragedies (but there is, ultimately and thankfully, a happy ending).

Summer Rain

By Bob Manion
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         Sara Bennett is a Smokejumper, earning her living by parachuting out of airplanes to fight forest fires.  On a training and qualification jump she is injured.  While recovering she meets a young doctor that she feels may be the man in her life.  At the same time she is forced out of the Smokejumpers and becomes a Ranger with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Service.  Here she meets fellow Ranger Randy Springer.  They soon become a team in a number of ways.
         On the job, their pursuit of lawbreakers goes way beyond tracking down the occasional poacher or the fisherman with an expired license.  Escaped prisoners, illicit drugs, terrorists, and corruption at the high levels of government make life interesting for Sara and Randy.
         This was an interesting and entertaining story, one that was difficult to put down.  It nicely combines action, romance, great characters, with an appreciation of both the wild lands of America with deep respect for those in the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement.  It is a fitting sequel to Manion’s earlier Springer’s Heart.

Sun, Nov. 11th, 2018, 11:42 am
More Progress

So as I've mentioned a couple of times already, I'm paralleling this year's NANOWRIMO in an attempt to get back to writing and to finishing the third Stone Island Sea Story.  I'm not actually participating in the event, but I am trying to write everyday as see if I can make some progress.  So far I'm doing great, at least in my humble opinion... or I'm doing so much better than I have over the past several years.

When I finished up yesterday, I had completed two chapters and started a third.  I have roughly forty pages, and by traditional estimated word count, that would put me at 10K.  Actual word count, however, according to the computer turns out to be 12120.  Unless my math is way off, the total story is now at nearly 51K, so I guess I'm just about at the half way point.  (The previous two stories ended up at about 400 pages and a bit over 100K words.)

I've ended up writing for nine of ten days so far this month and it looks like I'm averaging about four pages a day.  That is the pace I used to work at for the most part, so I'm at the point I want to be.

Still reading the Hornblower series.  Finished Hornblower and the Atropos yesterday and will post my review (written some time ago) of it in the next few days.  Will start on Beat to Quarters aka The Happy Return later today or tomorrow.  Have been thinking it might be time to read Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" series again, maybe straight through for a change.  Reading Hornblower and then about Aubrey/Maturin, plus working on my own Naval Adventure/Age of Sail (plus some Science Fiction/Fantasy) ought to help keep me focused.

When she was young, Jessica (daughter) was a big fan of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter.  She had a large stuffed toy croc or gater she called Bindi, after the croc that Steve's daughter was named for.  She left it here when she moved out, and it has been in what was her room ever since.  It's one of those spaces we've kept shut (had to install a screen door hook as it doesn't latch) to keep Coco out.  When he was younger, he'd get in there and chew on stuff, but lately he doesn't do that as much so we tend not to secure it all the time.  Anyway, last night I went to see what he was up to, and this is what I found.

It looks like he has a new cuddle-buddy/bed.  We had to take it away from him later as he was starting to chew on it.


Wed, Nov. 7th, 2018, 11:47 am
Back On Step

A week into November and I think I can say I truly am, "back on step."  I've been writing on a much more regular basis than I have for the past several years.  So far I've only missed writing on a single day.  That was last Saturday when I spent all day at a local high school's arts and craft fair.  But I did sell three books and also three photo prints of some of my paintings.

Sold an 8.5 X 11 inch print of this beach/surf scene

I started a new chapter, chapter ten to be exact on Thursday the 1st, and finished it up last night.  So far for the month I have about nineteen and a quarter pages and nearly 6k words.  Don't expect I'll hit the NaNoWriMo goal of 50 k, but I should make some real progress.  I'm guessing somewhere around 20 to 25k, give or take a little.

What gets me excited, though, is to realize that I'm thinking about the story, even when I'm not writing, and I'm thinking in more detail about the characters, their interactions, their emotions, as well as the big picture.  And I find that when I sit down to write, that things come to me and I feel more creative and more into the story.  Because I am a "pantser" it's almost as if I want to find out what is going to happen... just as if I were reading it.

So I'm hoping I can keep this enthusiasm and this spirit of creativity going for the month, and that it will continue as the month ends.

Wed, Nov. 7th, 2018, 11:33 am
Book Review (extra)

Here's another one of my reviews of the Hornblower books by Forester.
Hornblower during the Crisis
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            Spring 1805 and Hornblower has been promised his post-captaincy by Admiral William Cornwallis.  He turns over command of Hotspur and takes passage to England in the water hoy Princess.  When menaced by an approaching French brig, Hornblower leads the hoy’s crew and embarked passengers in boarding and capturing it.  On board he finds a pack of official papers and upon landing at Plymouth, spirits them to the Admiralty in London.  Because of the nature of those papers, a plan develops, one that may help lead to Nelson’s great victory at Trafalgar later in the year.
            Hornblower during the Crisis is the last Hornblower work written by C. S. Forester.  It is approximately one third finished, the author passing away before completing the story.  A single page, based on the author’s notes, describes how the tale was to have concluded.  Of the portion written, it appears to be work in progress, something that would be refined and polished a bit more had time been available.  Hornblower during the Crisis reads as if the author was writing quickly.  Perhaps he was aware of his upcoming demise and desirous of getting a much of the story on paper as possible.  While lacking in length and other qualities readers expect from Forester and the Hornblower tales, this story does fill in a small gap in Hornblower’s career.  It is definitely a “must read” for those looking to understand Hornblower’s life and career to the fullest.
            Included within the volume are two short stories.  “Hornblower’s Temptation” takes place aboard HMS Renown, prior to the voyage to the West Indies recounted in Lieutenant Hornblower.  “The Last Encounter” takes place at the twilight of Hornblower’s career.  If one is reading in order of life and career, the first story should be read upon completing Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.  The last should be read after completing every other Hornblower book or story, as it is the final tale.  Both short stories present the more polished work that a reader expects from Forester.  Perhaps the quality stands out a bit more when compared to the rougher aspects of the unfinished work printed in the same volume.
            The copy read for this review, ISBN 0-316-28944-2 was published by Back Bay Books of Little, Brown and Company.  It carries a cover price of $13.00 US.

Wed, Nov. 7th, 2018, 11:25 am
Weekly Book Review(s)

Posting reviews of a couple more books from the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.

Reviewed by Joyce Caudel

          All I ever needed to learn about the Marine Corp I learned in Springer’s Heart.
          Marine Sargent Hank Springer loves his life as a Marine but when the love of his life, Lori dies, Hank retires and moves his family to a ranch in Montana. There Hank fills his life with his growing family, orphaned children, ranch hands and the vast land of the beautiful Montana country side. Hanks heart is full of love for all of this but there is still something missing, a hole in his heart until the lovely Bess Clemons comes on the scene.
          Springer’s Heart is a story full of adventure and romance. Anyone interested in cowboys, cowgirls, rodeos and all the excitement of a good western romance will love this story.
Reviewed by Jim Harris
        I met the author, BOB MANION, three years ago at a writer's conference. This summer, I finally bought a copy of SPRINGER'S HEART (ISBN 978-0978850746, trade paperback, $14.95). From my personal experiences of talking with the author, I knew he was a great storyteller. The book did not let me down. Before I go any further, I have to tell you that based on what the book says its category is "Romance/Western", I would not have purchased the book. I am not a fan of either "romances" or "westerns". SPRINGER'S HEART is mainstream fiction with romantic situations in a western setting (Montana primarily). There are some rodeo scenes thrown in for background that I found to be informative but not boring in the least.
        The story begins with a horrific, fatal car crash. Then Hank Springer's life story unfolds with the one great romance of his life. That produces three great kids - two boys and a girl - who turn out to be wonderful adults. Hank serves in the U.S. Marine Corps for over twenty years. When Hank's wife dies of a serious disease, he moves his family to the ranch in Montana owned by his foster parents. The kids grow up and two move away while one son stays behind. Eventually Hank ends up being the foster parent for the three kids orphaned by the fatal car crash in the opening chapter. Total strangers meld into a happy family.
        This happy circumstance begins to show cracks when Hank and his son fall in love. And it is a Mother/Daughter combination! Hank adopts another orphan girl who is being stalked by her mother's killers and who raped and nearly killed her. How it all ends makes a wonderful tale. These are characters you will fall in love with. You will find yourself cheering for them in good times and crying with them in bad times. I highly recommend this story for ALL readers. I am happy I did not let the "Romance/Western" keep me away from an inspiring tale.

Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

        Having recently joined Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers group, my first newsletter told me of the release party for Beth Camp’s new book, Standing Stones.  I went, thinking it was only right to support fellow authors, even if we hadn’t met.
At first glance of the cover, I knew I had to buy it.  Later that day I found myself transported to a time and place I have only ever wondered about.  Being of Celtic descent, I was aware of the Orkney Islands, but had no idea what a hard life the people there lived.  Ms. Camp painted a perfect picture of the day to day life of the wonderful characters she created.  When they are forced from their homes, we follow the McDonnells as they try to find a new life.
        This book ends in a way that had me begging for more. I waited, very impatiently, for the second book to be released.
Reviewed by Bob Hildahl

        Mac McDonnell and his brother Dougal are both fishermen, trying to make a living off the sea. Mac, his sister, and three brothers live on Foulksay Island in northern Scotland. There they live in a stone cottage owned by Lord Gordon. When Lord Gordon wants to evict small farmers from their homes because he wants to use their land to raise sheep, Mac leads a protest against him. This results in Mac being arrested, the McDonnell's boat confiscated, and the family home destroyed.
        Beth Camp is an excellent writer who has created an interesting story with great characters and dialogue. The story is a page turner, which encourages the reader to just keep reading and not stop! Standing Stones is the first book telling the continuing story of the McDonnell clan.
        Available as an E-book on Amazon's Kindle and as a Paperback on Create Space.


Fri, Nov. 2nd, 2018, 02:44 pm
Another Book Review

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I might post (repost) my Review of Lieutenant Hornblower by C. S. Forester.  Silly me!  I posted that a couple of days prior.  Anyway, here is my review of the next book in the Hornblower Saga.  (Counting in terms of Hornblower's life and career and not the order in which they were written and published.)

(Somewhat on the crude side, this was another attempt at a logo or business card emblem for me and my Stone Island Sea Stories.  It's a vessel's head sails and the white four pointed star that has significance in the stories.)

Hornblower and the Hotspur
by C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            As the Peace of Amiens draws to a close, so does Hornblower’s time as an impoverished half-pay lieutenant.  Promoted and confirmed this time as a master and commander, he is given command of the ship-sloop Hotspur.  Leaving England and his new bride in advance of the rapidly rebuilding Channel Fleet, Hornblower is soon on station off Brest.  When his small vessel is pursued by the frigate Loire, a vessel with which the Hotspur has recently exchanged passing honors, Hornblower knows war has resumed.
            Aside from keeping a close eye on the enemy fleet, Hornblower devises and carries out daring raids to deny the enemy communication, supplies, and a route to the open sea.  He is directly responsible for the destruction of a signal tower, a gun battery, and four frigates armed en-flute, trying to leave Brest for Ireland during a winter storm.  Superb navigation and seamanship enable him to prowl the rock and shoal infested approaches to Brest, and during a winter gale to make a run before the wind to shelter at Tor Bay.  Sent as the fifth ship sent to detain the expected Spanish treasure flota, Hornblower and Hotspur miss the capture due to a running battle with the French frigate Félicité, dispatched to aid the Spanish.
            Throughout this adventurous tale Hornblower tried to maintain his composure, dignity, and honor as a Royal Naval Officer.  Yet a more human and tender side emerges, even though he would prefer it not to.  Having married Maria for reasons he cannot adequately fathom, he is nevertheless tender and caring in those few opportunities he has to spend time with her, and later with their newborn son.  His humanity also has the upper hand when he allows his steward, charged with assault, to escape to the American frigate Constitution while anchored at Cadiz.
            Once again, C. S. Forester has written an exciting and very readable book, detailing the adventures of his fictional naval hero.  However, as in many of his naval stories, certain details are questionable if not in error.  In describing the French frigate Loire, mention is made of “her painted ports, twenty of them per side, besides the guns on quarterdeck and forecastle.”  A typical frigate of the time would more than likely have had fourteen, fifteen, or on rather occasion, as many as sixteen ports along the gun deck.
            There is also some confusion regarding Hotspur.  She is said to carry twenty nine-pounders that give her her “rate.”  Twenty guns would normally classify her as a sixth rate post ship, one commanded by a post captain.  If indeed such a vessel was under the command of a master and commander, she would be referred to as a sloop-of-war in spite of carrying more that the usual fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen guns normally allotted to a sloop.  And yet when Hornblower is finally promoted, he realizes he will have to leave Hotspur, as it is too small to be commanded by a post captain?

            Hornblower’s exploits as captain of the Hotspur are covered in the made for TV films Duty and Loyalty.  Yet as is common with many screen adaptations, the basic story does not translate from book to film in an exact manner.  While Sir Edward Pellew does have command of the Inshore Squadron for a time, it is, according to the book, Admiral Cornwallis and not Pellew who toasts the newly wed couple, gives Hornblower permission to sleep ashore on his wedding night, and ultimately upon retirement selects Hornblower as the master and commander to be promoted to post captain.  While William Bush is aboard Hotspur as first lieutenant, Styles and Mathews are not.  According to the written accounts of Hornblower’s career, they have not been with him since his days as a midshipman.
            Côtard was not an army major but a navy lieutenant and Guernseyman serving in HMS Marlborough, who is detached to Hornblower’s command for a single operation.  Hammond is not a part of the Inshore Squadron, but rather in the book and in history, captain of Lively, one of the vessels sent to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, an episode of the book not covered in the films.  Lastly the film version deals extensively with the presence of Napoleon’s brother and American wife aboard Hornblower’s ship.  The book devotes one entire sentence to Bonaparte’s brother and wife attempting to get ashore in France, and that is at a point where the author is attempting to provide the reader with a wider overview of historical events.
            Despite quibbles with technical details, this is a book this reviewer has read and enjoyed several times over the decades.  This latest read of Hornblower and the Hotspur will not be the last, as it is, overall, a very well-written and exciting story.
            Hornblower and the Hotspur was originally published by Little, Brown and Company.  The edition read for this review is a 1998 paperback reissue by Back Bay Books.  ISBN 0-316-29046-7 carried at the time of purchase, a cover price of $13.95

Thu, Nov. 1st, 2018, 09:41 pm
Back On Step (I hope)

Way back when I was still working and when I relocated from the down town Spokane Club to the Spokane Valley Club, I started reading on a regular basis again.  That got me thinking about the book I'd written in high school and I decided to revise, re-write, and make it into something hopefully worth publishing.  That revision process has grown into a multi-book project.  I finished the first two in rather credible time, although it took a bit more to finally decide to self-publish and then do it.  However, as I'm sure I've admitted here from time to time, I've been taking forever to finish the third.

Made this little sketch of Island Expedition way back when.  Used it as the icon on my first business cards and also my first user icon here on LJ.

I thought that once I retired last summer that I would soon be back at it, but that didn't happen.  For one, I discovered that although I ardently looked forward to being retired, there is a big adjustment involved.  After all, from the time I was six years old, I was always in school, in the Navy, or working some job.  I always had someplace to be the next day, or the next week, and even if on vacation, I knew it would end and I would eventually be back studying, on duty, or at work.  And maybe, now that I am a bit older, I don't try to cram as much activity into a single day.  I need a little more down time on a regular basis.

So since I retired I haven't done as much writing (working on the third Stone Island Sea Story) as I would have liked.  I did end up having two surgeries over the past year, and when I got a gut bacterial infection after the first, I didn't want to do much of anything, even to sit at the computer.  And about a year ago, Coco came to live with us.  Two month old puppies need a lot of attention and I found it difficult to try and get anything done.  I couldn't leave the "office" open or he would come in and chew everything to pieces.  If I shut the door I couldn't keep an eye on him and the rest of the house was in danger of being eaten.  And of course I would worry that he'd chew on something bad for him.  Lastly, if I tried to put him in his kennel, he'd cry and there is nothing more distressing than a puppy's crying.  So I didn't do a lot of computer stuff... only what I needed to do, to keep up with the two newsletters I do, and the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site.

Daughter (Jessica) "photo-shopped" the above to this, sort of my emblem I guess.

For the last few months, however, he has gotten much better and I find myself at the computer more and more.  Yet I didn't seem to be able to get into working on that third book.  Back in August I realized it had been a year since retiring, and I recognized the possibility of needing some adjustment time.  So I made a stab at getting back to writing.  I finished a chapter I'd been on for the last few years and started another.  That attempt sort of fizzled out as well.

A few days ago, the reason why came to me.  I wasn't daydreaming or visualizing, or imagining upcoming scenes and plot points the way I used to.  Oh, I was still letting my mind wander, but I was focusing on other things, some of which might be of importance, and some which might be pure nonsense and completely useless.  When I was working, I used to do a lot of the visualization while at work, especially when I was involved in cleaning tennis courts.  That's a "no-brainer" job, much akin to mowing a lawn.  I only had to push the sweeper unit around and around on the courts and could let most of my mind wander to imagine upcoming scenes and plot sequences for my story.  Then when I got a chance to get on the computer, I could call up the scenes in my memory and write them.  And that was always what I thought was the real creative part of the process.  I'd hear the narration and the dialogue in my head, just as if someone were reading the story to me.  Sometimes I would imagine being an extra unseen being, present at the scene, watching all that went on.

So when I have time to let my mind wander these days, I'm trying to direct it back to the story.  I've managed to get something written three of the past four days, and I feel a need, an urge to keep going.  Anyway, I've finished up the chapter I started in September, and earlier tonight started another.

I know it's November and NANOWRIMO, but I'm not officially participating.  I am going to parallel it, however, and make a conserted effort to write steadily for the month and beyond.  I am hoping to have turned the corner away from some folks would call writers block and to progress at a fairly steady pace to complete this third book.  Then it'll be time to get on with the fourth... and fifth...

Reading wise, just started Hornblower and the Atropos and have read for two different sessions, so I'm still fairly near the beginning.
I might post my review of Lieutenant Hornblower tomorrow.

Wed, Oct. 31st, 2018, 12:08 pm
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.

Wed, Oct. 31st, 2018, 11:57 am
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.)

Sun, Oct. 28th, 2018, 03:09 pm
The Story Behind...

A few days ago I posted (reposted) my review of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester.  As I don't have a copy of or access to cover art for the book, I used a painting of mine that might stand in for a ship featured in another of Forester's works.  Usually when I post here on Live Journal I put a link to the post on my Facebook Page, and when I did for this latest post, I included the following picture...

On Facebook I mentioned there was a story behind this rather crude representation of a two decker/third rate man of war.  There wasn't room or time to offer an explanation then, so I offer it now.  Several years ago, while I was in the midst of writing the first Stone Island Sea Stories, I came across the historical fantasy series by Naomi Novik, featuring Temeraire, His Majesty's Dragon.  In fact, it was Ms. Novik's presence on Live Journal at the time that led me to start my own Live Journal account.  Anyway, in His Majesty's Dragon and the several books that follow, she talks alot about large ships designed to transport dragons, the backbones of nation's Aerial Corps, over long distances.  Using my imagination and experience in serving aboard United States Navy aircraft carriers, I came up with what I thought would be a workable sail-powered vessel capable of carrying dragons over the sea.  In some ways my idea might run counter to what Ms. Novik describes in her books, but I was trying to achieve some balance in terms of sail area/location, deck utilization, and so on.  This is what I came up with.  (2 pics because it's bigger than my scanner.)

And finally a smaller scaled drawing to show the rig/sail plan of the vessel, complete with a dragon on deck.
Any way, the "crude" two decker is a result of mechanically reducing the original drawing to have three instead of four masts, and then a rather primitive attempt at "photo shopping" to remove the dragon deck and the supporting beams.  If it isn't noticeable, the dragon transport's hull is basically that of a third rate, lengthened to double the length and widened to be twice as wide.  Plus, the dragon deck is added as superstructure, supported by numerious heavy beams and timbers.  So now you know.
And thinking of it, I probably could have used the third rate derivative  to represent HMS Justinian, where Hornblower first serves, or it could stand in for HMS Renown when  posting the review of Lieutenant Hornblower.

Reading wise I'm still progressing thru the Hornblower Saga.  Finished Hornblower and the Hotspur a few days ago and have now finished Hornblower During the Crisis.  Will start Hornblower and the Atropos with my next reading session.  I'll try to remember to post the reviews I've previously written sometime soon after I read each story. Or visit my web-site and go to the "Other" page to find the reviews.

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