Friday, October 31, 2008

Decent Interval: An Insider's Account Of Saigon's Indecent End by Frank Snepp

Decent Interval: An Insider's Account Of Saigon's Indecent End by Frank Snepp. This is the memoirs of a CIA analyst stationed in the US embassy. The publication of the book caused a long-standing legal battle that the CIA eventually won. Snepp lost all royalties to the book. The fact that the CIA took him to court would suggest that there's some explosive details inhere. It does not disappoint.

Snepp points out that both in the US Embassy and Washington there was an unwillingness to deal with reality particularly on the part of the ambassador and Kissinger. Kissinger comes off extremely badly as a doubledealing control freak. The CIA doesn't do much better. They were perfectly willing to massage intelligence when necessary. Snepp frequently was told to fudge up reports. I found it rather disconcerting how willing he was to do so.

The last quarter of the book describes the last day in Saigon. The scenes of panic and terror are gripping. The often difficult ethical choices people on all sides had to make are heart stopping.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ARC season

In the last week I received 3 queries to do reviews. Must be part of the rush for Christmas sales. It would save them some time if they would actually look around the site, 2 of the 3 books were from genres that I never review here.

Speaking of which I've added to the sidebar a widget for blogs that will review POD books. If you're interested in being added feel free to click on the join link. Thanks to Breenibooks for setting this up.

As always if you're an author or PR person feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts including some info about the book and an e-mail address to contact you. Everything goes through moderation so you don't have to worry about the address being posted.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sabretooth tigers lived in packs

Intriguing research, the article from the BBC. Their assumptions don't seem to be too big. Inferring Behavior from modern equivalents is pretty much standard. It's even done in military history Hans Delbruck made the technique famous when he showed that the ancient historians were wildly inaccurate about their numbers.

Ancient Greek Fortifications 500-300 BC by Nic Fields

Ancient Greek Fortifications 500-300 BC by Nic Fields is yet another Osprey title this one from the Fortress series. I'm not sure if it's a lack of material or what but Fields seemed to have trouble filling the 60 some odd pages. What there is here is a discussion of the construction of the walls around Athens. Then there is material on an outpost. The last section describes a city that was destroyed by the attacker diverting a nearby stream.

I did find it rather strange that in the middle of the narrative there is a digression that discusses climactic battle. That doesn't actually have anything to do with fortifications. The only thing I can figure is that Fields needed to justify the rather scanty information. Or for that matter its padding plain and simple.

Not recommended!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ferrari threatens to quit F1

The news today is Ferrari's threat to quit F1 over the standardize engine.
"The use of same engines would deprive F1 of its competition and technological development,"
Translation we might actually have to compete with more than one team to win every GP of the season unless there's an act of God[rain or a safety car]. Just think how much better advertising it'll be to actually defeat some competent rivals. Like say Toyota in NASCAR. If you beat garbage well then you're not much better than garbage.

Considering the global economic climate I wonder if this will be the pretext for Ferrari to quit the sport in a huff instead of announcing that they can no longer afford it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Debriefing by Robert Littell

The Debriefing by Robert Littell is my second novel from this author and another good one. A Soviet defector must be debriefed and determined whether or not he is genuine. As well there is the issue of what to do with the documents he brought with him. A nice intricate plot that at the same time is clear and readable. With a few very nice twists including one at the very end. Unlike certain thriller authors whose initials are TC it's nice to see the West shown to be just as backstabbing and doubledealing as the "evil empire".

Highly recommended!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron by Peter Edwards

Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron by Peter Edwards is a biography of the British spy that provided intelligence on the Fenians and other Irish terrorist groups. He gave material both to the Canadian government and British. This allowed the foiling of various terrorist plots as well as two invasions of Canada from the United States. The book also gets into a nice amount of detail about Irish politics in the middle years of the 19th century. Edwards manages to avoid the traps of popular history [i.e. dramatization]. He's done quite a bit of research and it shows in an extensive notes and a bibliography section. For anyone who's interested in an early terrorist groups, Irish, British, Canadian or American history.

Highly recommended!

Note: this book was provided through Mini Book Expo.

Added books to the TBR pile 10/24

Books for the week:
  • Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron by Peter Edwards an ARC
  • Indian Castles 1206-1526: The Rise and Fall of the Delhi Sultanate by Konstantin Nossov
  • Ancient Greek Fortifications 500-300 BC by Nic Fields
  • Book Magic: Turning Writers into Published Authors by Julie H. Ferguson an ARC

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quotation [occasional]

Conservatism has finally crashed on problems for which its doctrines offered no solutions (the economic crisis foremost among them, thus Bush's apostasy) and on its refusal to acknowledge that the "real America" is more diverse, pragmatic and culturally moderate than the place described in Palin's speeches or imagined by the right-wing talk show hosts.

- E.J. Dionne in the Post

Knighthood of the Dragon by Chris Bunch

Knighthood of the Dragon by Chris Bunch is the second book in the Dragonmaster trilogy. This is excellent military fantasy even if it's quite apparent what historical events he's borrowed from. The plot continues directly on from Dragonmaster. Basically dragons are used much like aviation in WWI. Characters attempt to figure out how best to use them along the way they discover aerial bombing and firestorms. There is a rather weak ethical discussion about the use of these tactics. The action scenes are extremely well done. Not to give anything away I'm not too sure what the third book will deal with since the major storyline seems to be concluded.


Panic on Wall Street by Robert Sobel

Panic on Wall Street by Robert Sobel is an extensive history of crashes on American stock exchanges. There is material on 12 separate economic panics from the start of the Republic through 1987. Let's face it the sort of book is rather topical these days. Most of the coverage is on the 1873 crash and 1929 Great Depression. I was actually most interested in various incidents I hadn't heard of for instance closing down trading on the outbreak of the first world war. Many of the more colorful characters both captains of industry and charlatans are discussed in loving detail.

Sobel does occasionally use jargon without explaining it. There isn't a glossary of terms I had to search to get definitions. Considering this book is aimed at a general audience this seems to be an oversight. For the most part an excellent book on an intriguing subject. Contains notes and bibliography.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book Magic: Turning Writers into Published Authors by Julie H. Ferguson

Book Magic: Turning Writers into Published Authors by Julie H. Ferguson is a short [less than 30,000 words] book on publishing in Canada. Ferguson a public speaker has published several books on writing and on the Canadian Navy. She discusses the various steps to publication through traditional channels [agents and medium-sized presses] and less traditional [POD] providing reasons both pro and con for different types of publishing. For instance she doesn't think much of getting an agent. Most of the information is geared towards nonfiction although their are occasional comments about fiction.

The how-to information is interesting particularly the analysis of the marketplace in Canada and the US. There are some pretty substantial differences between the two. The major Canadian publishers would be considered medium sized compared with the American conglomerates. I was surprised to hear that they apparently except material from authors directly. There's a list of suggested further reading as well as examples of query letters.


Note: this book was provided through Mini Book Expo.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cindy in Iraq: A Civilian's Year in the War Zone by Cynthia I. Morgan

Cindy in Iraq: A Civilian's Year in the War Zone by Cynthia I. Morgan is the authors memoirs of her time in Iraq as a civilian truck driver. Morgan who decided on this course of action after her most recent husband tried to kill her seems to have somewhat of a death wish although she never really comes out and says it. Most of the book is taken up with descriptions of day today supply missions in southern Iraq. Interestingly enough most convoys are attacked with nothing more dangerous than rocks.

Now as readers of this blog may have noticed I'm a rather cynical soul but I can't help being rather inspired by Morgan's story. Particularly as she is sexually assaulted while in Iraq and still manages to achieve her mission.

The office politics she describes scene even more absurd and pathetic considering they are happening in the middle of a war zone. The contractor and by extension the lack of oversight from the US government look particularly bad.

Highly recommended although not for the squeamish something different from the occupation.

The Defection of A. J. Lewinter: A Novel of Duplicity by Robert Littell

The Defection of A. J. Lewinter: A Novel of Duplicity by Robert Littell is the author's first spy novel that was published in the late 1970s. This is my first Littell and definitely won't be my last. Lewinter: an American ceramics scientist effects to the Soviets, the novel is wrapped around how the Americans and Soviets will respond and whether they will use his information. Littell is a genius at short characterization. In other words being able to give us insight into a character in a few lines. Most authors would have to go into pages and pages of description to achieve the same effect. The characters are a touch stereotypical but at the same time react differently enough to be real. There's also a nice twist in the end.

The point of view jumps between American and Soviet officials as well as Lewinter himself. Somewhat unusually for novels of this era one of the American officials girlfriends becomes integral to the plot. There are also occasional excerpts from interview transcripts. It's a little literary but I didn't much mind.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

200 books this year

With the completion of Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell I finished my 200th book for the year. Not all of them have been reviewed here. Some fell through the cracks, I hope to be doing reviews of them shortly. Others didn't seem all that logical to post a review here. No there isn't any pornography. At the beginning of the year I thought that 200 books would be a good number to complete. Considering there's over two months left 250 would be a nice goal for now.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell describes the author a contributor to NPR's obsession with the assassinations of American Presidents. The first three to be killed are dealt with Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. JFK is left out except for one or two small references. The argument in the text is that the first three were linked by Todd Lincoln being near to all three assassination sites. This seems a little forced. Vowell is trying to be funny. The humor isn't at least to me. The narrative itself is also very disjointed. It's laid out in chapters 1 for each assassination but it will bounce between the various narrative threads. It should be noted that she tries to link the McKinley administration with the current Bush presidency. Personally I didn't find the comparison all that egregious but it's caused some pretty severe frothing on the Amazon review page for the book. I did learn one or two things but the book comes off more like a piece of performance art then a the history or travelogue.

Not recommended!

The path of destiny: Canada from the British conquest to home rule, 1763-1850 by Thomas Head Raddall

The path of destiny: Canada from the British conquest to home rule, 1763-1850 by Thomas Head Raddall is the third volume in a six volume political history of Canada that was published in the 1950s and 60s. The book covers the length of time from the seizing of Canada by the British through the decision to grant representative government. The book starts with a discussion of why the Canadian territories did not join with the Americans in the American Revolution. Much of the book is taken up with a rather conventional account of the war of 1812. The final section is devoted to the rebellions in upper and lower Canada and the resulting dismantling of the family compact. There are no citations or bibliography. The writing is serviceable without too many flourishes.


Castles and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans 1450-1650 by Stuart Reid

Castles and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans 1450-1650 by Stuart Reid is part of Osprey's series on fortifications. It covers the development of fortified tower houses in Scotland from the 14th through the 17th century. These were never intended to be able to defend against a siege with a siege train rather they would provide security from raids. Rating being the primary form of conflict that took place in this era. As typical with Osprey there are pictures, drawings and illustrations on every page. There's also a wealth of technical data including floorplans. Unusual for the publisher Reid includes some wry observations including that Scottish defensive strategy was "throw something on them from a height and hope they go away". The book contains a short bibliography, chronology, glossary as well as suggestions for sightseeing in Scotland.


Discoveries: Birth of the Motion Picture by Emmanuelle Toulet

Discoveries: Birth of the Motion Picture by Emmanuelle Toulet this short book crams a surprising amount of information into its less than 200 pages. It covers the beginnings of the film industry from 1895 when the first motion picture was shown in Paris to 1906. There's coverage of technology from various creators including Thomas Edison. Most of the material is on France but there is also mention of America, Germany and Britain. There is also a discussion of the "grammar of film" a interesting look at special-effects and other techniques. The book includes several extracts from documents including, a film catalog and remembrances from important creators. There's suggestions for further reading, a chronology and indexes.

Highly recommended!

Added books to the TBR pile

For the last week:

  • Panic on Wall Street by Robert Sobel
  • The British Cavalry by Philip Warner
  • Castles and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans 1450-1650 by Stuart Reid
  • Discoveries: Birth of the Motion Picture by Emmanuelle Toulet
  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Friday, October 17, 2008

F1 standard engines

Well, well, well, this certainly is going to change things particularity combined with the aerodynamic reductions. Might actually manage to have some real competition for once in F1. I can't believe I'm actually saying this but good job Mosley.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Macarthurs War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero by Stanley Weintraub

Macarthurs War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero by Stanley Weintraub covers the first 11 months of the Korean War when General Douglas MacArthur was in command. Weintraub a lieutenant during the conflict paints McArthur as a schemer always looking for ways to expand his power at the expense of the Pentagon and the White House. There are intriguing parallels between MacArthurs failure at the beginning of World War II and at the outbreak of Korea. He seemed unable to grasp rapidly changing events. Weintraub complements McArthur for his grasp of military history and leadership but considers him a failure in the wider political sphere. For instance MacArthurs inability to understand that using the Nationalist Chinese would be a politically disastrous mistake. There is extensive research from archival and secondary sources.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Postmortem on Canadian election

So let's see here how I did:
  • Conservative minority. Correct
  • Liberals and Conservatives both have fewer MPs after tomorrow.Wrong
  • NDP will not be official opposition. Correct
  • The Greens will not win a seat.Correct
  • Increasingly loud rumblings will be heard from the West that Stephen Harper sold out to Ontario and Québec and still couldn't get the job done. Only time will tell
  • Dion out, Trudeau in the on deck circle. Only time will tell
It looks like this is going to be a race between Stephen Harper and the economy. If the economy recovers before the next election then he probably has a pretty good chance at a majority. If not then it will probably be over for him. The timeline is mostly in the hands of the Liberals do they want to get rid of Dion at this stage. I bet the answer to that is yes now how long is it going to take to make him understand that.

Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken

Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken is a famous classic of American political criticism. Mencken today is usually known as a social critic with an acid tongue. His quips are frequently quoted by PJ O'Rourke and Paul Fussell. This slim book contains Mencken's views on the politics of the 1920s. He is particularly scathing where it comes to the mob, how they are stupid, superstitious and ignorant. Politicians must either whip up the mob as demagogues or be populists who follow the mobs every will. He has no real solution for this except the creation of a disinterested elite but there are no real explanations of how this would be accomplished. Mencken is somewhat a libertarian however he also criticizes the judiciary as being more interested in political expediency than the Constitution.

This new edition contains extensive endnotes that give short biographies and explanations of Latin and Greek terms. An introduction tries to put the work in context as well as giving biographical notes. I would've preferred that the explanatory notes had been footnotes at the bottom of the page instead of endnotes in the back.. Very thought provoking particularly in our post-9/11 world.

Highly recommended!

Note: this book was provided by the publisher for review.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik is the fourth book in the Temeraire series. The Napoleonic war is being fought out with dragons. Ivory continues on directly after the events of Black Powder War, the Prussians have collapsed Lawrence and Temeraire just managed to escape. On their return to England they learn that the dragons have been struck down with an illness. Temeraire seems to have immunity to it which they believe is the result of eating something on an earlier trip to Africa. A small group is sent to Africa to determine what it was and bring it back. While looking they are captured by an African kingdom and must try to escape. The book concludes with Lawrence having to make an ethical choice. It sets up a nice cliffhanger but I don't really buy the response of the people who receive the benefit of his decision. Trying not to give anything away....

Novik is quite inventive or it comes to adding the dragons into the era. Where she's a little less successful is in making the aviators culture real. There is a subplot involving one of the female aviators being knocked up. This leads to the should she get married or not discussion which comes off sounding like a couple of women's studies professors showed up in early 19th century England. She also drinks alcohol while pregnant. Considering that I doubt from the tone of the series the child will be FAS I find this in rather poor taste.

The fifth book has been released I'll be picking it up. For the most part I liked this except for the pregnancy business. If you're interested in alternate history with some fantasy elements you could do much worse than the series.


Paddington bear's 50th

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the first Paddington bear stories release. The first book I can remember was A Bear Called Paddington, I was 4. So I can blame my sagging bookcases on a bear from darkest Peru.

Warren is back

Best thing I've heard all day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian election predictions

A few quick predictions on tomorrow's Canadian federal election:

  • Conservative minority.
  • Liberals and Conservatives both have fewer MPs after tomorrow.
  • NDP will not be official opposition.
  • The Greens will not win a seat.
  • Increasingly loud rumblings will be heard from the West that Stephen Harper sold out to Ontario and Québec and still couldn't get the job done.
  • Dion out, Trudeau in the on deck circle.

Thoughts on Harry Potter one year and a little bit after

As I mentioned way back here I've been slowly rereading Harry Potter. It's taken me quite a bit more time than I had expected. There always seemed to be something interesting in the mail for me to pick up instead.

So what do I think? Well here's my half sleepy review at the time. I was actually pretty coherent considering I had been up for around 30 straight hours at that point. I still think Kipling's "if" is a pretty good analysis for the series. Harry's function is to be yelled at by doubters most of the time. The more I think about it the more there are some severe pacing problems in Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows. I didn't really notice anything to egregious in Half-Blood Prince. Whether this is simply her transitioning into that exalted state where editors do nothing or if it's something else I'm not sure.

That being said Rowling has the truly rare gift to be able to drag you through the plot despite occasional bad writing and inconsistencies. Whether that is transferable into territory other than a young adult fantasy is an open question.

Somehow I don't think I'll be rereading this again next year. I may wait until my nephew is of age. I can infect him with the contagion all so...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Literary fiction doesn't sell, deal with it

That perennial argument about the End of Publishing has started again. My favorite analysis is from It’s Only The End of Rose-Colored Glasses in part:
There was never a Golden Age of Publishing where people bought only high-brow fiction that elevated the mind. It’s a figment of your imagination.
The whiny elitism is strong in the original piece. It does make me wonder if they've been in a bookstore lately.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quotation [occasional]

Steve Fuller complains, as do all authors whose books are panned, that I did not read his book properly (or at all). Alas, I did.
- AC Grayling on Steve Fuller

Friday, October 10, 2008

Added books to the TBR pile October 10th

I haven't done one of these for just over one year. I'll try to get back into the swing of things. A rather light week for new stuff.
  • The German Infantry Handbook, 1939-1945: Organization, Uniforms, Weapons, Equipment, Operations by Alex Buchner.
  • CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson an ARC.
  • Workers, Strikes, and Pogroms: The Donbass - Dnepr Bend in Late Imperial Russia, 1870-1905 by Charters Wynn.
  • Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken an ARC.
  • Kingdoms of the blind: How the great democracies have resumed the follies that so nearly cost them their life by Harold W Rood part of my Hailer Publishing reading project.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Thanks to Maggie of Maggie Reads!

Beyond Shock and Awe: Warfare in the 21st Century edited by Eric L. Haney and Brian M. Thomsen

Beyond Shock and Awe: Warfare in the 21st Century edited by Eric L. Haney and Brian M. Thomsen is a very hit and miss selection of essays on current American doctrine debates. The section on the history of technology centric high tempo fighting is interesting. The section on Iraq is a decent enough summary. If you're new to the debate then you'll learn something if you've been paying attention you probably won't. The section on the future of warfare is rather silly. Rather strange for there to be criticisms throughout the history and current affairs section of technology centric doctrine then to have future analysis based around technology. There's also a essay defending the Bush administration's military tribunals and giving suggestions on how they can appear to be more just as opposed to you know actually being just.

Not recommended!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

So much for doing anything today

Headaches are not good for my work...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Canadian election is getting interesting

CPAC - Nanos Tracking CP 34, LP 31, NDP 18, BQ 11, GP 6

Canadian Grand Prix is gone

So how are the apologists for the FIA at TSN going to spin this one? Certainly the news is disappointing but it was only a matter of time considering the attempt to kick it off the schedule earlier. Now that the circuit has a Nationwide NASCAR race hopefully it will be able to survive. At the least we will have the memories of all those champions bouncing their cars off the wall on the main straight.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Moving library

Here is an interesting post from the Rejecter describing one of my nightmares. Mainly having to move all my books. It certainly will have to happen one of these days. I don't think I'll be in my current location permanently. I've always thought it would provide an opportunity to actually go through and organize them into some sort of logical system l at the new location. That's probably being wildly optimistic. Unless I have a lot more shelf space there than what I do now.

Tug of War: The Canadian Victory That Opened Antwerp by W. Denis Whitaker

Tug of War: The Canadian Victory That Opened Antwerp by W. Denis Whitaker is a military history of the Canadian, British, and free Polish armies clearing the canal that connected Antwerp with the ocean. Whitaker a Lt. Col. who participated in the battle gives a opinionated account. He argues that the Supreme Command ignored various opportunities to seize the German forces and shorten the war. There was an unwillingness to take the advice of Dutch and Belgian resistance forces. Eisenhower also did not provide the level of support to Montgomery that he should've. Much of this does refight the British versus American arguments that have been beaten to death over the last 60 years. Montgomery does come in for some criticism himself. Admittedly a Canadian perspective is a little unusual. The narrative of the battles is quite compelling based as it is on lots of eyewitness accounts. These were grinding battles of endurance with very little strategic sophistication. There were one or two interesting tactical set pieces like the "sinking" of a Dutch island by strategic bombers.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Gryphon's Skull by H. N. Turteltaub

The Gryphon's Skull by H. N. Turteltaub is the second book in a historical fiction series that deals with the Mediterranean. Turteltaub is a pseudonym of the master of the alternate history Harry Turtledove. Alexander the Great has been dead for 14 years. The Empire he founded is collapsing in squabbles between his successors. The plot of the book describes the trading season of two Greek cousins Menedemos and Sostratos from Rhodes. They try to make a profit while avoiding pirates and in Menedemos case jealous husbands. Sostratos the intellectual is fascinated by the discovery of a Gryphon's skull that he wants to take to Athens to be studied.

The writing is excellent at portraying the setting of the ancient Mediterranean. The dialogue tends to be a little superficial. Turtledove knows his Greek literature. Characters will quote chunks out of it whenever possible. This would be like 17th-century Londoners constantly quoting Shakespeare. It's a little strange. There are also some anachronisms.

At this point there are four books published in this series. I'm going to pick up the others. Certainly different than most historical fiction I read. Nice to get away from military topics for a change.

Highly recommended!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Matchstick Men: A Novel About Grifters with Issues by Eric Garcia

Matchstick Men: A Novel About Grifters with Issues by Eric Garcia something a little different this time from the author of the Dinosaur Mafia mystery series. It's the story of a con man with OCD who discovers that he has a child from a previous relationship. The plot is basically him dealing with the news which isn't as it seems. The book is quite short without Garcia's wit. I was rather disappointed with the ending its hard to explain my issue without giving it away but let's just say the amount of planning and effort that went into it would make General Eisenhower proud. This is one of Garcia's lesser works. Only for fans of his who need to have everything he's produced. A movie was made from this my understanding is that it's quite good. I haven't watched it myself so I can't say.

Not recommended!

Hot and Sweaty Rex by Eric Garcia

Hot and Sweaty Rex by Eric Garcia is the third and most recent Dinosaur Mafia mystery. It was published back in 04 and I really hope it's not the last one.Vincent Rubio hidden dinosaur and detective is back. He is sent by the dinosaur Mafia in Los Angeles down to Florida to infiltrate a rival family. Conveniently the rivals are run by his childhood friend and old girlfriend. Yes it's goofy but it's still enjoyable. Very funny. Perhaps a little heavier on the violence then the two earlier volumes. If you enjoy your fiction a little quirky you'll like this.

Highly recommended!

Yes Rowling is that rich

She makes £5 every second. There are probably some small countries that don't manage that.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Honour Redeemed by Tom Connery

Honour Redeemed by Tom Connery is a rather lousy piece of historical fiction. Lieutenant George Markham is the hero in this second book of a trilogy. He gets himself embroiled in Corsican politics during a British landing in 1794. The British are trying to seize control of the territory and push out the French. There are plots and counter plots, quite a bit of deception on all sides. The plot is actually done quite well it's fast-paced.

There are problems however. Connery's characters all seem to have the same two emotions incandescent rage and lust Markham spends an impressive amount of time arguing with superiors. Not that his Marines listen to him either. As for the lust Markham considers it his prerogative to do every female he comes across. Curiously they are all on the verge of popping out of their corsets. Historical accuracy is done with the occasional info dump. There lots of mistakes I could get into but what's the point.

Not recommended!

A Positively Final Appearance by Alec Guinness

A Positively Final Appearance by Alec Guinness is a loose diary [the month is mentioned the date isn't] of the actors experiences in the years 1996-1998. There are a few major themes, his loathing of Star Wars, health problems, politics and the English stage. There's also quite a bit on the death of Princess Diana. If I knew more about the English theater of the 30s, 40s and 50s I probably would have picked up more. The structure comes off like you are talking to a grandparent. There'll be something on how nice the weather is then suddenly a dinner party in New York in 1953. It's a little disconcerting.

Recommended just don't expect anything to earth shattering.

This is not from SNL

Sarah Palin on newspapers and magazines.