Monday, December 31, 2012

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I decided to read Team of Rivals after listening to Doris Kearns Goodwin on Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley, followed by seeing the movie, Lincoln.

Team of Rivals takes the reader behind the scenes of the average person’s understanding relating to Lincoln and his rivals. I was never fully aware of the actual facts that supported historian’s views why Lincoln was such a brilliant strategist. So for me, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln provided the answers.

Lincoln turned his rivals, Seward, Chase, and Bates into his cabinet. He must have concealed the belief, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ The insight to how Lincoln manipulated behaviors was a treat for me. I enjoyed understanding how his mind worked.

It took Doris Kearns Goodwin ten years to research Lincoln’s presidency. Team of Rivals is a book every reader will enjoy and come away with a better understanding of Lincoln’s brilliance.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Sons of Cleito by Derek Haines

A reader may choose The Sons of Cleito because they enjoy reading mysteries about ancient Greek and its mythology, maybe even Latin mythology, but even if that isn’t the case, Chapter One will hook any reader immediately. It is one of the most intriguing first chapters I’ve ever read.

The main character, Langley Garret, is viewed as a regular run of the mill guy at one point, then becomes a complicated part of a political scheme when he is kidnapped.

Readers have no idea what is going on because poor Langley doesn’t have a clue either. In Derek Haines true form developing his characters, his phenomenal writing style keeps his readers questioning the same things Langley is confused about.

In The Sons of Cleito, Langley becomes our best friend. We route for him to figure out his predicament, that is while we are internalizing (pun intended) why he thinks in terms of his internal organs, especially during some of his less friendly kidnapping ordeals.

Derek Haines showcases his expertise in letting his readers decide for themselves what his characters are all about. He is at his best writing The Sons of Cleito because it has the most unpredictable ending for Langley Garret.

Mystery lovers will appreciate reading The Sons of Cleito by Derek Haines, especially if they want to know if Langley Garret is successful unraveling his kidnapping.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Forgotten Age by Jack Eason

There are some people who never give up on their dreams. Nick Palmer was one of those people. After saving the earth from destruction, his next project would be to go to Egypt, once again, and locate the library of the ancient peoples to prove who was responsible once and for all for sculpting the Sphinx. He also added to his quest the ancient myth concerning the purpose of the pyramids.

Fortunate to have his familiar team members join him in his quest was an advantage for Palmer. But the fun part of The Forgotten Age, were the new recruits he picked up along the way.

The adventures Palmer and his team encounter are predictable to any adventure book or movie. It is the writing style of Jack Eason in The Forgotten Age that is captivating. Anyone who enjoys a good adventure story, especially about Egypt archaeology, will appreciate The Forgotten Age by Jack Eason.

I was disappointed the story was predictable. What makes a five star review, for me, is unpredictability.

Martial Arts Adventures in Japan by Andrew Zerling

 A Kyoto green tea ice cream cone anyone?

I travel through others.  My latest trip I visited major cities/places in Japan with Andrew Zerling. He planned his trip to study martial arts, but to me that was a side step. I enjoyed being a tourist alongside Andrew Zerling as his writing is descriptive, informative, and inviting.

Andrew wrote with a journal in mind, however, it read like a captivating story. When asked to read and review Martial Arts Adventures in Japan, it brought two things to mind. The first was my memory of taking Karate in 1981; the other was my son visiting Japan with his friend in 2001. I was intrigued to revisit Japan through Andrew Zerling’s martial arts adventures.

Interesting facts to me:

I was surprised to learn the martial arts training Andrew received in the U.S. was practically identical to Japan’s training.

As an avid green tea drinker, I now yearn for Kyoto’s green tea ice cream cone.

I have never eaten sushi, but my sons enjoy it every now and then. When I get up enough nerve to accompany them to their next sushi meal, I wonder if I will be the only one who is aware of  the correct way to handle a piece of sushi.

As for Andrew’s journal of Japan’s martial art schools, it is an absolute must read for anyone following in Andrew’s footsteps. He described each school he visited and compared the training experiences. He added numerous invaluable links to everything a student would need to train in Japan.

Although the book is less than 100 pages, you can’t skip anything, because Andrew included tips from preparing for your trip to Japan, including how to learn enough of the Japanese language to survive, how to appropriately present a business card, (yes, these are very important in Japan), riding The Rail, sightseeing, and the bath houses, just to name a few focal points.

For the martial arts student, Andrew highlighted everyone he met in the schools he trained in. He described how the schools operated, he shared clues for the appropriate etiquette to use, including what is legal and illegal, (yes, there are differences in Japan from the U.S.), and he listed numerous links for schools, including phone numbers.

Andrew Zerling has done all the work for anyone wanting to visit Japan as a tourist or a martial arts student in his book, Martial Arts Adventures in Japan.

To quote Andrew - “With great preparation comes great success. I wish you happy traveling.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet by Pat Hatt, Illustrated by Juuichi

Make room for new friends

Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet is a brilliantly written story about friendship. Pat Hatt embraces his love of cats to teach children not to make quick decisions about others, to give everyone a chance to be a friend. It could also be a great way to welcome a new sibling to the household.

The illustrations compliment the comical rhymes that introduce new vocabulary to the reader.

If you don’t own a cat before you read Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet, you may soon be bringing one home.

The Swashbuckle Chuckle by Pat Hatt, Drawn by Caleb Wallace

What a great adventure to take with memorable characters soon to be mimicked by children lucky enough to read The Swashbuckle Chuckle.

Children will be captivated in the pursuit of the village fountain. The rhymes are entertaining while teaching lessons – hint, read it to a child who is in a cranky mood, see if it doesn’t turn his/her frown upside down.

The illustrations will no doubt engage the children long after the book is read. Be prepared to bring the characters alive.