Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Posts Tagged ‘historic’

NATCHEZ BURNING: A Novel ~Greg Iles

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The first book in a trilogy that will just knock you over it is so compelling and non-stop.  The action and history is condensed into an 800-page turner of a book, which fills in history and the violence of the 1960s that continues into 2005.

NATCHES BURNING was sent to me by TLC Book Tours and I have to admit I was not too thrilled as I was already reviewing 7 books for them this month and this gem was 800 pages and part of a 3 way deal.  Whew!   I am not hugely a fan of thrillers either although this one had some historic merit, which found me interested.  Then I read what Stephen King wrote on the cover:

“ Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful.  I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer.  There’s a bonus: You’ll finish knowing a great deal about the Deep South’s painful struggle toward racial equality, and the bloody road between Then and Now.  Only a southern man could have written this book, and thank God Greg Iles was there to do the job.  This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”

There was so much history in this story from the killing of the voter registration workers in 1964 to present day distress and unequal treatment.  The torture and murder of anyone of color, and others, who got in the way or seemed funky to the KKK and the wealthy scheming whites were just what one thought was going on in the back of the mind.  And yet, the FBI and police could not seem to find the guilty parties or justice.

Iles has lived in Natchez, Mississippi all of his life and the book is full of characters that his fans have known before.  Dr. Tom Cage is a physician who has served all of his community with his medical care, which involved the keeping of many secrets. Dr. Cage’s son Penn is a lawyer, writer and now Mayor of Natchez and is working to solve the charges against his father.  Henry Sexton is a reporter who has faithfully kept the research and storytelling alive about the murders, fires and rape which throughout his history has plagued the community and threatened every member of the society with prejudice and hate.  Dr. Cage is loosely based on Iles own father, and the newspaperman is based on a fellow who has written the stories in his own paper in town and is about to write his own book on what he knows.

The book is extremely hard to put down and I read the whole in 3 days of hard pressure.  I can actually say that I am looking forward to THE BONE TREE, which I will review next month; book two in the trilogy I must wait until March for book three.

Even thought it contains a great deal of history, I know one of my book groups will not read it because of the violence and another because they have a 400 page limit.  It is a thriller and it contains a great deal of violence; it reveals a great deal of the context that I always thought was true but has been bred into the culture and will take a great teacher to heal and a determined citizen to break through.  Greg Iles breaks through and opens a door to re-enculturation.  NATCHEZ BURNING – What a Read!

“Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of thirteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, AND #1 NY TIMES bestseller THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL. Iles novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.”

www.GregIles.com

Related:
The Contractors
The Fury
The Shock Doctrine

PARIS TIME CAPSULE: A Little Romance Within a Real Life Mystery ~Ella Carey

Monday, September 28th, 2015

I was so ready for a romance read on the schedule and PARIS TIME CAPSULE did not disappoint.    I just gathered up my Kindle and headed to the deck umbrella for a lovely day of escape reading and staying cool in the unusual heat wave.   The city became still as folks left for a last holiday experience and to escape the heat before school starts here.  I traveled to Paris and enjoyed the adventures of CAT.

The story begins with the arrival of a mysterious package and the information that Cat has inherited an estate of a woman who lived in France.   This opens the story up to the true historic event that intrigued the author to write this novel.  In Paris, an apartment was found which had been locked up for 70 years and belonged to a French Courtesan in the 1840s up until World War II.  It was a time capsule of a lifestyle and a life and has revealed interesting secrets of its own.  The author found this to be a fascinating idea and a good foundation for her novel.

I found myself to be desiring a croissant and a glass of wine very soon into the story and the reports of the lovely food kept my mouthwatering.   Cat becomes engaged to a young man who is a member of the wealthy New York jet set and likes being in NYC close to his extended family.  Because Cat’s parents are deceased the family takes her under their wings and begins to make all the preparations for the parties and wedding.  Cat loses herself into the hustle and bustle of the expectations and yet still flies off to Paris to remedy the inheritance and to work on solving the mystery.

Enter dreamy, handsome French man and his family who have been left out of the will and their family’s inheritance.  Oo La La!   We have quite a story to tell now and yet the time capsule of the apartment and the mystery of the connections keeps us reading forward.

TLC Book Tours sent me the advanced reading copy of the book for review and apparently for a lovely afternoon escape.   I enjoyed the book and can recommend it to my readers as a delight – PARIS TIME CAPSULE

Ella Carey has been studying French since she was five and has degrees in music and art, and was a classical piano major in school.  Writing is her passion and this book was independently released in 2014 and rose to #10 on Amazon’s Indie selection during the year.  It is now being published by Lake Union Publishing and to be made into a motion picture.   She has been to Paris many times and is currently working on her second novel, walking the beach with her dogs and enjoying her life with two children.

Ella Carey Facebook 

PARIS TIME CAPSULE has gone to #1 on historic fiction!  And is free for Kindle Unlimited readers

Related:
Mirielle
The Mapmaker’s Children
Songs of Willow Frost

Outlander Premieres on Starz – Guest Blogger Elizabeth Eckhart

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

This write up about the new OUTLANDER TV series was proposed and written by blogger & writer Elizabeth Eckhart and because I have reviewed the Outlander series on my blog as great books to read, we thought her analysis of the series might add to the discussion on the blog.  So I will step aside and share what Elizabeth wants to say:

~


When the new series Outlander debuted August 9 on Starz, it attracted a whopping five million viewers. That’s not surprising given the long-running series’ devoted fan base, many of whom took advantage of Starz’ current online streaming (for the first episode only, anyone could watch it) and teaser videos. Diana Gabaldon’s sprawling collection of books, first published in 1991, includes eight main novels which she describes on her blog as “big, enormous books,” as well as smaller novellas and short stories set in the series’ world.

That world is a complex mix of places and times. The story’s protagonist is a World War II era nurse named Claire Randall who finds herself whisked back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she’s nearly abducted by the evil ancestor of her loving husband Frank, a history teacher and former M16 agent. Claire becomes caught up in clan politics and eventually is taken under the protection of Clan Mackenzie, where she begins to fall in love with Scotsman Jamie Fraser.

It may sound primarily like a time-traveling romance, but Gabaldon herself insists that in many ways her stories resist easy classification. You’ll hear them described as historical fiction, mystery, fantasy and even science-fiction, much like the similar literary series Game of Thrones (the TV adaptation which is also available online, through Direct TV). That last appellation may be the biggest reason that Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, was a natural choice to executive produce the project, which he terms “magical fantasy.”

The success of the first two episodes has already guaranteed the show a second season. Outlander is being shot on location in the Scottish Highlands, and the detailed care given to period and costume settings will undoubtedly keep fans of the books happy. Fans of Game of Thrones might also recognize the castle setting, since both shows use the courtyard of Castle Doune, a fascinating though challenging place to shoot due to complicated logistics.

Devoted fans may also be comfortable with the slow pace of the show. Since the entire first season is based solely on the first novel, the creators have been able to take their time revealing complex layers of the plot and in developing characters. This is a luxury that feature filmmakers, with only two hours at their disposal, simply can’t afford. While there is some concern that the slow pace might not keep the attention of potential fans that aren’t already familiar with the novels, that’s a risk the show’s creators seem willing to take. Given the strong built-in fan base, it may be more important to stay true to the novel’s contours, something that Variety’s Laura Prudom thinks the first episode, at least, does very well.

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe plays Claire and provides the voice-over narration. That narration echoes the first person nature of the books, and keeps viewers invested in exploring this strange world right along with Claire. The voice-over may feel heavy in initial episodes but lessens as the show goes on, according to critics who have seen more of the first season. Claire’s husband Frank is played by Tobias Menzies, who doubles as his own sinister ancestor Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, while Scottish Sam Heughan takes on the role of Claire’s 18th century love interest Jamie. Balfe is receiving kudos for her turn as the strong, displaced heroine.

True to the books, the show contains some bodice ripping moments, but for the most part Outlander doesn’t linger on scenes of sex or violence. The main charm for viewers so far seems to echo the appeal of the books. This complex story world is fun to explore, and the show’s creators seem to be having a delightful time setting it up for us.

Elizabeth Eckhart on Twitter 

My neighborhood has a group to discuss the Outlander series new on Starz and they have a go to lunch group who want even more discussion time too.  Have you discovered these books and the new series?   I saw the pilot free and it was so well done.    Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your thoughts and just maybe we will get a good discussion going in the comments section?  What do you think?

Related:
Outlander Series

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation ~Jon Gertner

Monday, March 12th, 2012

THE IDEA FACTORY is an incredible read, it is a powerful read; I was so excited by the title when asked would I review the book on my blog.   I thought the IDEA FACTORY was about opening up the reader’s creative ideas and creating opportunities, rather it is a work of History.

The book does excite the creative juices and get one to do some poignant thinking; it was wonderful to fire up those skills and enjoy such a well written book.  Gertner  has  a command of words that was refreshing.   The book is about the period of history 1940s to 1970s when Bell Laboratories, Western Electric, and AT&T had a benevolent monopoly on communications in the USA, particularly as they related to the development of superior telephone service.  The innovations which came out of this monopoly are still being visited today and are creating massive amounts of new technology at an even faster pace.  The innovations that were established by the Bell Labs are the foundation of our technological world today.

Bell Laboratories wanted communications services, “the best, the fastest and the most economical” in the world.   So they went about finding bright young minds who loved the sciences and mathematics and engineering, and inventing and were CURIOUS.   Most were from rural settings and were encouraged by a teacher to find grant money and get themselves to a good school.  Then the Bell Labs set about discovering the “best among the best”, usually referred by their faculty and hiring them to create and invent and produce the equipment they needed to keep communications growing, being more successful and meeting needs.  They paid each young man $1 as they entered the work force for any patents they might develop and gave them a lab – Doors must remain open so other disciplines can wander in and get involved – they were given a problem to solve or several problems to solve.

How to get long distance services across the whole country – from coast to coast.

How to develop a cable that would survive under the ocean?

How to use a single cable to carry 1,000s of calls – clearly

These young men found each other and metallurgists, and chemists, and mechanics to start discussion groups and to problem-solve.   They wandered around and wrote on blackboards in the various labs.  They challenged each other and teased each other until a solution immerged.   The list of what they produced is amazing and the stories of how they came up with these solutions fascinating:

  • Switches
  • Cables
  • Masers to lasers
  • Water proofing
  • Transistors
  • Secret Codes for the WWII
  • Calculators
  • Computers
  • Radar
  • Microwave Antennas
  • UNIX
  • Atomic Bomb
  • CCE = Digital Photography
  • 13 Nobel Prize Winners!

Although institutions such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and others have great minds working together, they are similar but not as innovative or inspiring with the new, they are creating within a niche. “….the NET is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” Nicholas Carr.

The downfall of this experiment was when they had to give up their monopoly and break apart the different sections so that they were not all working together without need for grants.  With the monopoly the BELL LABS did not have to learn how to find funds or market.  The biggest problem was that the USA downgraded education as a priority particularly math and sciences; modern society wants rules, answers, and control and thus curiosity is not encouraged.

“I just don’t think they make people like the kind of people we had; not that nature doesn’t make them just that the environment doesn’t make them.”   Dr. Lucky

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to be amazed by history and to jumpstart their curiosity.   I also enjoyed this book because it made me feel closer to my Father who was one of those brilliant, curious, intelligent young men of those times, who came from a similar background and created an education system that outshined anything else that was in existence and it came to the attention of the Kennedy family.  When President Kennedy was shot it burst the trajectory my Father was on and other people just did not have the foresight to comprehend his work, though many prestigious universities called him to teach and promoted his concepts.

I was also fascinated with the chapter about the Seattle and New York World’s Fairs as I attended both and went to the Bell Lab’s displays and house of the future.

So has anything surprised you recently and been different from your expectations?  Would you have read the book if it had turned out to not be what you expected?   Were you pleased with the outcome?

Penguin Press  and TLC book tours sent me a copy of this book and I promised them a review.

tlclogoIf you order anything from Amazon or Powell’s    I will receive a few beans in my bucket. (Kindle)

Related Reading:
Shiny Objects
The Swan Thieves
The Social Animal
The Procrastination Equation