About andreart2013

After thirty plus years of military service, I now reside in rural Hanover County, VA. I write historical and speculative fiction and paint and teach watercolor painting.

Book Review: Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Sinai Tapestry (Jerusalem Quartet, 1) by Edward Whittemore

(Three Stars)

“When you’re defending Jerusalem you’re always on the losing side.”

A fascinating mélange of fact and fiction focusing on the Middle East in general and Jerusalem in particular. As jumbled as a Finnegans Wake. It never sold well perhaps because it’s not that good. But it has the bones of greatness.

“Scraps from a magical book that’s always being written? Or was written once? Or will be written someday?”

Do not, do not, do not read the fore- and after words until after you have read the entire book. Even then you should skip those natterings of literary hangers on, laced with much back patting and mild spoilers.

“What he did is too unreal not to be true. No one could forge a life like his.”

If this is, as we are assured, Whittemore’s greatest work, then you need not read the rest. Having said that, why rate it as three stars? It hints at more than it delivers, but what it does deliver has the possibility of opening new worlds of thought, if not history and introspection.

“In the end nothing could be said of his work except that it was preposterous and true and totally unacceptable.”

“What happens to a person who reads a book—if it’s any good—is a profoundly private and irrational process, and the more distinctive the novel, the more private and irrational the process.” Judy Karasik

Book Review: Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Sun of Suns (Virga #1) by Karl Schroeder

(Three Stars)

“If the world needed saving it wouldn’t be worth doing it. Everything worthwhile ends up getting stolen by someone evil.

Great new setting for steam-punk science fiction: inside a planet-sized balloon of gases (Virga). All “gravity” is inertial, Local “suns” heat and light small areas of the temperate zone, and the politics and technology is mostly nineteenth century. The characters begin in mystery and opposition but must work together for a greater good. An outsider knows about the evolved technology (and biology) outside the bubble, but her motives and theirs may not coincide. Good plot flow and development. Nice cover art.

“She’s bitter. People enjoy being bitter. It gives them license to act childishly.” “Aren’t you the philosopher.”

Having said that, the narrative seemed appropriate for young readers except for Continue reading

Book Review: “Little Wren and the Big Forest” by Michael J. Sullivan (Three Stars)

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Book Review: “Little Wren and the Big Forest” (Legends of the First Empire #0.6) by Michael J. Sullivan

(Three Stars)

“She also knew that bad things happened for no reason, and good things rarely occurred at all. Good things needed an excuse, an effort, a payment.”

Pleasant short story from the First Empire. A fair representation of Sullivan’s style.

“This is where things will get bad. This is where everyone went and never came back. The real question is, are they alive in there? Will I be able to see them again?”

I think this is extracted from one of his full-length books. I have read it before.

“Wren stared at the crow. Completely black, it didn’t look like the sort of bird one ought to trust. But then, the sheep had been adorable with its cute little beard, and that didn’t work out so well.”

Book Review: At the Queen’s Command by Michael A. Stackpole (Four Stars)

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Book Review: At the Queen’s Command (Crown Colonies #1) by Michael A. Stackpole

(Four Stars)

“There has to be a logical explanation.” “That would be a comfort.” Nathaniel spat. “On account of the fanciful ones ain’t bringing me no peace of mind at all.”

A fun, if illogical, romp in an alternate universe that looks so much like eighteenth century North America that one wonders why Stackpole Continue reading

Book Review: “Professional Integrity” by Michael J. Sullivan (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Professional Integrity” (Riyria Chronicles #2.6) by Michael J. Sullivan

(Four Stars)

“You’re willing to pay fifteen tenents just in the hope your disappearance will be noticed by this Ianto fellow?” “Clever, right?” “Not if clever means the same in your world as it does in ours,”

A clever short story which fans of Riyria will enjoy. Others will perhaps wonder what’s going on. Of course, so did Continue reading

Book Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

(Three Stars)

“There are so many of these murder cases. There are hundreds and hundreds.”

A comprehensive–nay exhaustive–study of the uncounted murders of Osage people a hundred years ago. Grann gets lost in the details, as apparently Continue reading

Book Review: Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Return of the King (Lord of the Rings #3) by J. R. R. Tolkien

(Five Stars)

(This review is of the 1990 unabridged audio recording by Rob Inglis.)

“The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so the rightful king may be known.”

Have read this series at least once a decade since college (many decades ago) and it continues to be fresh and refreshing.

“A traitor may betray himself and do good he does not intend.”

Great story and great storytelling. Excellent narration, especially the rendition of the songs as songs. This audio volume includes Tolkien’s appendices on Hobbits and Smokeweed.

“Twice blessed is hope unlooked for.”

Still the gold standard for fantasy.

Still round the corner there may wait,

A new road or a secret gate.

And though I oft have passed them by

A day will come at last when I

Shall take the hidden paths that run

West of the moon; east of the sun.

Book Review: The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston (Two Stars)

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Book Review: The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston

(Two Stars)

“I was searching for an authentic way to be both a Native American and a Christian.”

Ambitious effort to meld Christian and Native American spiritual beliefs without compromising either. Ends twisting Christianity like a pretzel. (“What do they teach in [seminaries] these days?) Native Americans may feel the same. Tempted to condemn the book, I also would like to have rated it higher, if only because Charleston seems sincere.

“The Native American quest was pragmatic, designed to produce transformation.”

Noteworthy for Charleston’s apparent sincerity. His motive is also Continue reading

Book Review: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett

(Three Stars)

“My turn that way [i.e., his ability to observe and make deductions] is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.”

There’s nothing like a good Sherlock Holmes tale; this is nothing like Continue reading

Book Review: The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (Five Stars)

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Book Review: The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings #2) by J. R. R. Tolkien

(Five Stars)

(This review is of the 1990 unabridged audio recording by Rob Inglis.)

“For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying.”

Have read this series at least once a decade since college (a few decades ago), and it continues to be fresh and refreshing. Often imitated; seldom Continue reading