Category Archives: Book Reviews

Follow the reviews I make on some of the books I’ve read

Book Review: A Dark History: Tutors

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.15.17 AM

1/5 Stars

imageAs a Tutor fan myself, I look for many writings that cover the rein of the Tudors and their successors, and thus I nabbed this book by Judith Jones. I cannot say that I am in love with this book, because I simply am not.

This book, like many of the others I have reviewed, is a reference book more than a novel type book. I contains many of the picture references expected of a Sterling Metro Book and informational side tables; much like those of A World History by Phillip Parker, for which I also did a review.

However, where Parker’s book offers cohesive and well timed reference panels, John’s book does not. This book offers great information in terms of the early years of the Tutor rein and circumstances and of the dynasty as a whole, however it is not put together well, or written in a way that flows well.

This book is written in a fashion, as to say, a writer who has so many collected thoughts and wants to express them to you, but stops every so often to talk about something else, as not to forget it later. While this works well in a conversation, it is horrible in a book. Constantly bouncing back and fourth between the main text and “oh let me just tell you this detail before I continue”, just makes it seem like the author did not properly outline her work well before she started and was just writing off the top of her head. And I am astonished that an editor at Sterling Publishing did not capture this.

Again, the information offered is good and different from what most books have in ways, but it does not offer a compelling difference, enough to endure the torturous lack of formatting.

The information panels in this book are also horribly formatted, often starting in the middle of a sentient on one page, to locate the panel on the next page, and then finishing the sentence in the following page; rather than locating the panels at the end of sections, or paragraphs like most Metro Books.

Some of the information is inaccurate as well; the production team on this book did not bother to fact check. On one page a photograph of a letter is described by the author as a letter from King Henry VII to Queen Isabella, in reference to the betrothed of their children. When in fact, any Spanish, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, or French speaking person can read on the document, that it is a love letter to Catherine of Aragon by Prince Arthur.

Anyone who is a fan of medieval and Renaissance history must encounter the Tutors somewhere along the way; and whether partial to them or not, it cannot be said that this family was not a staple in the word history itself. It saddens me that this book is available for sale to readers who may not know much of the Tutors and are going to be fed erroneous information within bad, confusing formatting.

My final thought: this book needs an overhaul. I do not recommend it. Purchase a more accurate reference book that flows well. This is a sad addition to the “A Dark History” collection and a sad day for the Tutors.

© C. J. Leger October 16, 2014

Advertisements

Book Review: The Spanish Queen by Carolly Erickson

imageAnyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid fan of anything Tutor related, and most especially, anything related to the great Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife.

Carolly’s book is subtitled “A Novel of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon” and of the many books related to the tutor dynasty, is the first I have encountered that encompasses the story between Henry and Catherine pre-Anne Boleyn.

While Henry, in all his glory, left behind a legend of a dynasty, so did Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon; as the most powerful rulers the world had ever seen. However not much is written about their daughter Catherine, deserving of an attached trail to their legacy as well, except for the fact that she was loved by the people of England and made her parents proud by being a gracious and obedient queen in her new realm.

This book takes us back to Catherine of Aragon before she was Catherine; when she was revered as Infanta Catalina, the daughter of the great Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, financiers of the discovery of the new world and its conquests. During this setting the reader can greatly appreciate the grandeur of the Court of Granada and understand that in and of herself, Catherine was a force in history, and understand why such ferocity was used by the Bishop of Rome, the Emperor of Rome, and the Court of France to defend her during “The King’s Great Matter”.

It is a great book for those who want to know more about this woman, who was such a prime part of one of the most historically altering events in Europe. It also gives us an inside look at the true nature of her life in England, as a betrothed girl, wife, widow, and then prisoner alongside Henry VIII by His father, who too wanted to marry her; until the death of her mother, caused her to be discarded until further use for her could be found.

This book does a great job of explaining the type of life Catherine endured before actually becoming Queen of England, and the life of women during that time.

This book is, however, a novel, made to trap historical fact and dramatization together in a bound vessel. It does have historically accurate events, but is mostly fictional text.

Parts I Do Not Like

My main quarrel of this book is the way Queen Isabella of Castile is portrayed. She is written as a grand woman deserving of her crown, but weak in the presence of her husband and submissive to him. History knows that Isabella was the heir to the throne and she made it quite clear that Ferdinand was King consort. All envoys who went to their court for approval of anything, spoke directly to her and she made the decisions on almost everything. To portray such a strong woman in history as a feeble wife is just horrendous. She was her predecessor’s successor, in all her might and glory, in her kingdom and her marriage.

The formatting on pages 104-107 are off. The last line reaches all the way to the bottom of the pages which is odd and uncomfortable.

Overall, this book lack just a hint of umph that would take it over the edge, but is still a page turner for me. I enjoy that someone somewhere wrote a book about such a magnificent queen like Catherine, who endured so much after being sent to the English court. I would recommend this book as a great addition to a Tutor library collection, which encompasses a fictional, entertaining text with historical accuracy and another side to the Tutor Court.

Book Review: A Writer’s Resource 2nd Edition

a writers resourceThere are a few editions of this great book, but by far the best one is the 2nd edition, which still cost more than its successors on most platforms. This book is an indispensable resource for writers, and while it focuses on writing for college students, it offers incredible reference for later in life.

This edition of the book includes a new section for multimedia assignments, which its predecessor did not; and it includes tabs for APA and Chicago MLA writing styles. This edition of A Writer’s Resource boasts 13 tab sections immaculately separated and are as follows:

  • mhee.com online resource code
  • Learning across the curriculum
  • Writing and designing papers
  • Common assignments across the curriculum

The tab sections that follow these are geared towards writing after college, and are what make this book a necessary resource for writers after they’re on their own.

  • Writing beyond College
  • Researching
  • MLA Documentation Style
  • APA Documentation Style
  • Other Documentation Styles
  • Editing for Clarity
  • Editing for Grammar Conventions
  • Editing for Correctness
  • Basic Grammar Review
  • Further Resources for Learning

Each tab also includes sub-tabs which cover everything from comma placements to sentence restructuring. On the back flap of this book, the reader will find a column stile rundown of resources within the book that writers can use. This section highlights resources such as how to avoid writer’s block which is found on page 53, comma splices and run-ons, located on page 471.

Similar to World History, for which I also did a review, A Writer’s Resource placed a handy world map towards the back of the book, along with a timeline of world history, which covers the founding of Babylon in 3000 BCE to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A glossary for selected terms follows the timeline, explaining terms like Fascism, Modernism and The Big Bang Theory. Furthermore, right before the index, the reader will find a resource for multilingual writers which explains articles, verbs and sentence structure in depth.

Overall I recommend this book to any writer who is managing the production of their books, articles, and stories on their own without the help of an editor. This book is an invaluable resource for writers with limited resources and want to get their content right; but it also makes a great companion for any author who wants to hone their technical skills to match their creative prowess.

Purchase A Writer's Resource on Amazon 
Purchase a Writer's Resource at Barnes & Noble 
ISBN-13: 978-0-07-296209-3
ISBN-10: 0-07-296209-7
Authors: 
Elaine P. Maimon, Janice H. Pervitz, Kathleen Blake Yancey

© C. J. Leger September 19, 2014

Book Review: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Not enough is said about the trials and tribulations of love when you’re in the military; and even less about the struggles one faces with aging family back home. But this books makes a perfect example about the real-life sacrifices and choices service members often have to make in order to serve.

Set in a comfortable and memorable beach background, John Tyree is portrayed as a lovable yet reluctant romantic, who falls for Savannah Curtis, and begins exchanging letters with her while deployed. John must face the challenge of dating Savannah in a long stance relationship while they both change as people, and manage the progression of his father’s Asberger Syndrome.

Nicholas Spark’s use of Johns relationship with Savannah strengthens the attachment of the reader, in his many mentions of Savannah’s training with Autistic children; a condition very similar to Asberger, and how she helps John along with things he did not understand about his father before she enlightened him.

The story also tears at the heart strings of anyone who has ever been in a relationship where circumstance often plays a large role in its outcome. Overall this book opens a door to readers about what it’s like to love so terribly strong, and how military life plays a part in who someone is at their core and how it helps them succeed; but all in return for an immense amount of sacrifice and experience.

Be prepared to be taken back to a time in your life when you were old enough to love anyone you wanted, yet young enough to still enjoy a carefree relationship, full of summer romance and memories with “that amazing guy” who wears a military standard and uniform to add to his appeal and lovableness. The story takes place in a time that everyone has encountered at one point or another, meeting summer love and making memories that never fade, long after both lives may have gone their separate ways. It enhances those “alone” moments in the rain and makes the reader feel a part of the events as if experiencing their own affairs all over again.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a tale of romance that encourages both excitement and sadness in the reader; for a well rounded experience.

© C. J. Leger September 16, 2014

Purchase Dear John at Barnes and Noble
Purchase Dear John on Amazon

Book Review: World History by Phillip Parker

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Where do I start? I have been asking myself why no one has made a widely sold book that spans the entirety of our human history and explains it all. That was until I found, and fell in love with, Phillip Parker’s version, published in 2010 by Sterling Publishing.

Unlike most history books which only cover specific eras in great detail, this title brings us all the way back to the prehistoric age and covers the first ever recorded humanoid, Australopithecus; and travels down to Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus, before covering the well known Neanderthal.  The book spends less time detailing aspects of each era and can be used more like a timeline guide for history; speaking of which, the book does include a handy timeline conveniently placed at the commencement of the book and a reference guide towards the end; detailing every war, battle and ruler on respective tables.

In my personal opinion, this book is the perfect companion piece to any history text book used in college or high school. Most classes have a standard text book and a companion book to go with it; this book could eliminate all other companion books used for history courses, as it covers every era and presents all the reference guides one would ever need.

However, I’d also recommend this book for those not currently enrolled in a course, and seems to be the perfect alternative for someone who is interested in history, would like to know how and when certain things happened, but doesn’t want to spend too much time figuring it out.

On average, the book spends 1-4 pages on each civilization which is divided into 3 sections for each historical occurrence for that time period. But as the book is a reference for the whole of human history, it covers each culture various times throughout, as the centuries progress. It is divided into 7 main chapters that begin with the prehistoric world and ends in the modern world.

An example of its breakdown is seen clearer in the chapter labeled “The Classical World” which spans between 400 BCE to 600 CE, in which Celtic and Germanic Europe, India and The People of Steppes are all covered in 6 pages as follows:

Celtic and Germanic Europe 

  • The Celts’
  • Successor States to Rome

People of Steppes

  • The Scythians
  • The Huns
  • The Kushans

India

  • Chandragupta and the Rise of the Mauryans
  • Ashoka and Buddhism
  • Gupta India

Before entering into a periodical, 2 page centerfold examination of other interesting occurrences or relevant information, not directly covered in the book. There are a few of these that give the reader a bit more reference to understand what they are reading. This book is perfect for the person looking to get their information and go; all of these events were covered in just 8 pages and gave me the meat and potatoes of what I wanted and needed to know.

It covers the discovery of the Americas, all it’s voyages and details the great navigators of the time. Later on the modern world is covered, including the current world wars and conflicts. Everything you would ever want to know, about any time in history, is covered in this convenient 512 page book, that is small enough to fit in any small bag or purse.

The book comes complete with visual guides, pictures and captions relevant to the current text and opens with an explanation of what the meaning of history is.

Overall I would recommend this book, which I purchased at Barnes and Noble, and would recommend it as an essential companion piece to any history course.

Purchase the book at Barnes and Noble 
Purchase World History on Amazon
Purchase World History on AbeBooks
ISBN 9781435138957