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Review the Last Book You Read

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The Oasis by Pauline Gedge

Volume Two of her trilogy "Lords of the Lands" about ancient Egypt.

After Sequenenre's death and defeat, Apepi harshly punishes the Tao family. Led by the eldest son Kamose, they revolt once more but this time they manage to bring in other nobles as well, and with the element of surprise they manage to conquer entire Egypt except of the Nile delta. After several campaigns up north and a campaign in noawadays northern Sudan, all Egypt has been united again but for the capital of the invaders. But as Kamose has become autocratic and harsh sô several of the nobles who had chosen his side earlier decide to rid themselves of him and they stage a coup in which Kamose is killed and his brother a,nd heir Ahmose is wounded, leaving it to his mother and sister to put down the rebellion. The book ends with Ahmose recovering and deciding as new pharaoh to reorganize the country to break the power of the nobles and to get rid of the Hyksos once and for all...

a worthy successor to the first book.

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Peter and the Shadow Thieves

by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

More narratively strong than the first book, and the mythology is coming along nicely, too. How much of this owes to J.M. Barrie, and how much to J.K. Rowling? The world may never know. But all the same, a good read, and a wonderful origin story. It's fun to catch the moments Barry must have been thinking, I can be funny now! and weird to think this is the same guy, even with a cowriter, who wrote that column for all those years, even weirder here than with Tricky Business, which you can see I read earlier this year. Oh, well!

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The Horus Road by Pauline Gedge

Volume Three of her trilogy "Lords of the Lands" about ancient Egypt.

After Kamose's murder his brother Ahmose becomes king. Ahmose is more subtle and starts reforming the arisocracy and bureaucracy to make a repeat of the aristocratic revolt which cost Kahmose his life impossible. At the same time, Ahmose is able to drive out the Hyksos ones and for all by capturing their capital and by invading modern day Israel in order to kill the Hyksos king and his heirs once and for all. Interweaven with this is Ahmose's familial troubles as he has to overcome distrust between him and his sister-wife. The book ends with the family distrust overcome and the start of Ahmose's reign as true pharaoh over Egypt...

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A Little History of the World

E.H. Gombrich

A concise, as the title implies, but enlightening version of history, one that puts the many rhythms in perspective, as well as the strides of progress, how they've really been going these past few thousand years. Gombrich is a philosophic scholar.

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The Shark Mutiny by Patrick Robinson

The story is about Chinese expansion into the Middle East. After China and Iran lay a mine field blocking the Persian Gulf, Arnold Morgan, the National Security Advisor, is determined to chase the Chinese back to their home waters. In this case Morgan sent 24 United States Navy SEALs to the Middle East to destroy Chinese bases and oil platform on USS Shark, an old submarine s well as 5 CVBG's. However, the Persian gulf blockade was a Chnese ploy in order to delocate the US Navy. With the US thus engaged elsewhere, China uses the opportunity to invade and conquered Taiwan. The only thing the USA can do is try destroying a Chinese naval base in Burma in retaliation. The SEALs and USS Shark are used for this once more but things go wrong and the SEALs are trying to escape to open sea whiule being hunted by Chinese helicopters. Meanwhile, a mutiny occurs on USS Shark when its commander refuses to save a stranded group of SEALs. When the crew and the battered SEALs returned home a court martial awaits them. The story ends with the captain of USS Shark pensioned off in disgrace, his XO leading the mutiny dismissed from the service in disgrace and the top of the SEAL's collectively resigning their commission.

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Star Trek: Corps of Engineers - Aftermath by Christopher L. Bennett, Robert Greenberger et al. It's the latest paperback adaptation of the long standing S.C.E eBook series, containing eBooks 32 to 37. Basically it sees the Da Vinci back together after the traumatic events of "Wildfire" doing what they do best i.e clearing up other peoples ' messes. This includes assisting in an ambitious plan to terraform Venus, dealing with a unique runaway spacecraft (and keeping it out of the hands of the rapacious Androssi) and rescuing a group of outcasts from a prison located on the edge of a black hole. There are a couple of significant new characters introduced for the first time, a nice cameo from the redoubtable Scotty and some good character development. Well worth checking out. :D

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The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debby Applegate

This turned out to be much, much better than I ever imagined. To be honest, I only read it because I saw the author on Book TV and she was very attractive. In all fairness, what she was saying was also quite interesting so I am not as shallow as I seem. You can see a picture of her here.

It was a fascinating look into a forgotten character in the history of the United States of America. His sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, is much more famous for writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. But as the title of the book indicates, Henry Ward Beecher was once the most famous man in America. And he is largely forgotten today.

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Knight Errant by R. Garcia Y Robertson

In this book 20th century movie producer Robyn Stafford gets transported back to 15th century England by means of witchcraft. In England she finds herself trapped in the historical events of the first stage of the War of the Roses and when the Earl of March, later to be Edward IV, becomes enamoured with her, she starts to play a role in histiry. The book is the first part of a trilogy. Question is wether her presence will change history... or will history run along as it was intended and somehow write Robyn out of it...

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That sounds quite interesting, I've always liked these alternative history stories. It's strange, I always read around 2 books a week but never report em here - might have to start.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

At 9, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland. At 11, she battled an ancient body-stealing evil. At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you're thirteen. . . .

But the Wintersmith isn't exactly a boy. He is Winter itself—snow, gales, icicles—all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses out of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to Spring. She'll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax.

It's going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn't survive until Spring— Spring won't come.

Much better than the last outing and still back to the ol' funny Pratchett. Is aimed at kids, but it's readable by kids and adults alike without sound patronising to either.

Edited by OptiMystic

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The Oxford History of Western Philosophy

edited by Anthony Kenny

The funny bit comes in the end, when Kenny admits in a post-script what he's been sticking in all along, that much of western philosophy tends to not actually hold up past the original thought-era, even though it does inform each succeeding generation in some way. Then again, Kenny also says elsewhere that there are no true continuing schools, at least in the early philosophy of Greece. And yet that doesn't prevent him from crafting a book that treats all of philosophy as a continuing line of succeeding thought. It's really a shame that such a provocative topic should be so badly handled. The most interestingly written section comes in the final third, when political philosophy is explored in a much more natural manner, even thought much of the actual thought is still redused to the same analysis that plagues the rest of the book. If you've got the word "history" in the title of your book, it's history you ought to concentrate on. But maybe that's just me. None of which is to say that the past half dozen weeks have been a waste. One of Kenny's early thoughts (there that is again!) is that it is difficult to read philosophy without philosophying yourself. In that, he is certainly right.

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Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Fascinating and thought-provoking. (Though perhaps a little "off" on a few things.)

The Preface is as good any other part. That might prompt you to question the worth of the other parts, but it is only an example of the quality Lewis' provides in all of his writing.

The contents of this book were first given on the air, and then published in three separate parts as Broadcast Talks (1942), Christian Behaviour (1943) and Beyond Personality (1944). In the printed versions I made a few additions to what I had said at the microphone, but otherwise left the text much as it had been.

Note that these talks were given over the BBC during WWII. They cover the case for Christianity; morality; and the Trinity ? in one cohesive whole.

There are also a couple of places where, in passing, he mentions speculations about life on other planets, etc. ? which he developed in his Space Trilogy. :D

Edited by Dahar Master Kor

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Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka

Japan 1861. It's six years since commodore Perry forced the shogun to open up Japan to foreign contacts. One young daimyo from the Okumichi clan - a clan in which each generation one member has been gifted or cursed with the ability to see parts of the future - seeks to get his country into the modern age. To do this he has asked some missionaries to come to Japan to aid him. His enemies - both internal and external - however try to defeat and kill him in order to preserve the old samurai way. In the end the lines which had dominated japan for 250 years - the side you fought on at Sekigahara - blur and former sworn enemies become friends and former allies turn into foes. This blurring leads to an unexpected save for the daimyo when a former enemy saves him during battle.

A very good novel about the opening up and modenization of Japan.

Edited by fdewaele

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Some weeks ago, I finished...

The Poem That Changed America: "Howl" Fifty Years Later

edited by Jason Shinder

Includes the poem, of course, as well as a variety of essays about how the poem managed to change, if not an entire country, then the lives of a healthy display of its citizens. Still, it's John Cage who steals the show with his own poem, which reworks to even odder effect Allen Ginsberg's words. Reading this book sort of re-re-reawakened my interest in poetry, so I guess "Howl" did it again...

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Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka

The sequel of Cloud of Sparrows. The story takes place six years after Cloud of Sparrows. It tells the continuing story of Genji, Emily and the other main characters still alive. The story jumps between era's (1310, 1840, 1860, 1867, 1895) to show the effects of the clairvoyance curse that the Okamura's have and how all those era's are interwined and cumultate in Emily's death giving birth to her daughter and Genji's murder in 1895.

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The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman.

This book handles about the very first month of WWI. It describes the alliances and war plans, the causes of the war and the mobilization process. The German invasion of Belgium, the siege of Li?ge, the battle of the Frontiers, Charleroi, Mons, the Allied retreat. On sea it describes the chase for the Goeben and the battle of Heligoland Bight. On the Eastern front it describes how the Russian steamroller gets bogged down in East Prussia until the Russian Second Army gets annihilated at Tannenberg. The book ends on the eve of the battle of the Marne at the moment that Gallieni launches the French Sixth Army in the German First Army's flank.

What is sadly missing from the book is the Austro-Russian front. Tuchman describes the battles between Germans and Russians at the East Prussian front but neglects to tell the story of the first month of war between Russia and Austria nor does she describe what happened on the Austro-Serbian front. That's the sole defect of the book which otherwise is a must read for people interested in WWI.

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What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! by Agatha Christie

Unlike the next one, a very good and unexpected ending. Up to Christie's usual standard.

The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie

Plenty of tantalizing suspects provided by Christie, as usual. Unfortunately, I was able to (sort of) guess the ending quite early on, which is never a good thing.

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Lila

by Robert Pirsig

The author's follow-up to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a slam-bang companion note, more taut and more on point, but instead of focusing on an impersonal metaphor, employing a fictional character to illustrate his Metaphysics of Quality, which is probably why it has never caught on quite as easily as the first book. Though, as the editor remarked in that philosophy chronicle I read a few months back, I couldn't help but add my two cents in throughout most of the process, Pirsig has struck on with greater accuracy than I have seen elsewhere the nature of our current existence, how we got here, why, and the thought that where we're going...in the end, doesn't really matter, unless you want to embrace his Dynamic Quality, which hues so closely to the Buddhist idea of Nirvana, perfect experience (though, to my knowledge, no one has ever called it that).

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Price of Honor by David Hackworth

Sandy Caine is a captain of the US special forces and scion of a prominent military family. Caine's father was killed in Vietnam and disgraced himself in his conduct on the field of battle. When serving in Somalia, a mortally wounded army ranger reveals to Caine that he served with is father and that his father wasn't a coward but a real hero. Together with reporter Abby Mancini and his A-Team, cain tries to discover the truth about his fathers death. By doing that he becomes involved in a politicial scandal about his senatorial "uncle" - who received the MoH for the action which killed his father and the rest of the team - his dealings with a desperate shady defense company with a failing multi billion dollar defense project. In the end it turns out that the chief of staff of the senator is the bad genius which leads to the senator murdering him and committing suicide, the revelation that the senator "stole" Caine's father role and that he acted cowardly, and the fall of the defense contractors black division in a showdown with Caine and his team.

Now, this is a book which should be turned into a movie :yeah:

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Legion of the Damned series by William C. Deitz

It's 6 books and I read them back to back over the period of two months or so. I won't post any spoilers but a general outline for anyone who wants to read them. It's a great series of future warfare with aliens, cyborgs, space battles and such. If you like war stories, futuristic stories or a mix, this is definitely a series to read.

It's basically about a family line of soldiers in the Legion (think French Foreign Legion only in the future) and how they are in some cases, pivotal characters in various intergalactic and civil wars. As I said, there are aliens and cyborgs, space battles and all that kind of stuff going on. It gets brutal at times and very frank but it's well written and done in a way that literally anyone can and may be killed off to further the story. Not even the main characters are always safe. The series has derailed from some of the core details that it started out with. Nothing too important or serious, just minor things you wouldn't notice or are even necessary to the overall arc. I barely noticed and I read them one after the other.

The basic story starts off literally with one race of aliens declaring war on all the rest and how humanity and the Legion imparticular are pretty much all that stand in their way to interstellar extermination. It moves on to the next book, a second war, the son of one of the previous main characters and his role. Then there is the third book with his son takes on the role of hero and there's a mix of interstellar war and civil war to contend with. The interstellar war kind of arcs into the next book, still with the same guy (and does so for the remaining books) and how they handle the current war/crisis. The final book leaves on a cliffhanger in the beginning of a particularly nasty war which is going to have to be resolved in the next two books in the series scheduled for release sometime next year.

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A Carribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

Standard Christie, set on a tropical isle. :yeah:

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis ;) ;)

Denizens of Hell visit Heaven. Those wish to stay may do so. People they have known or admired while on earth are sent to persuade to do so. However, most don't like it there.

The premise is heresy, of course, but the conversations between the visitors and the residents are enlightening. I especially sympathised with the murderer sent to urge his former boss (factory foreman) to stay.

The physical properties imaginged for Heaven and Hell are also interesting. Partly borrowed from a sci-fi work.

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie

Unfortunately, this is more of an organised-crime novel than a whodunit. Chritie excels at the whodunit. Her crime/spy novels are well below par, IMO.

Meh.

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Well, now I know how long I've been reading River-Horse...

Technically, I've been reading four books in the meantime, including three advanced reading copies at the bookstore, the latest being:

The Archivist's Story

by Travis Holland

I found out it was officially released today. The book concerns Russia in the days prior to and those at the start of WWII, its heels firmly planted into the Communist muck it would suffer through for the next half century. The citizenry was being forced to conform to a solid rank of ideas, and those outside this stolid mainstream were slowly being wittled away, notably for this story's purposes the literary minds that, in the previous century, had shown so brightly. The main character incites his own tiny rebellion after being asked to review the final manuscripts of Isaac Babel, a grim duty that comes before the steady march toward the incinerator, and finds that finally, he will make a stand. Holland sculps in the classical sense, and sometimes the effort is a bit too obvious, that his aims are more lofty than he is truly capable of matching. Still, it's compelling.

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