In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

14 October, 2007

Book Review: The Bretton Katt Alliance: The Lorrondon Cycle Book One by Margaret Garside

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

It is the year 2441. The two major powers in the galaxy are the Terrans and the Neorans. Currently it is a time of strife between the two races. Great civil unrest is occurring because of the Terran military leader Victor Bastian’s movement against Neoran populated planets in Terran Space. This leaves more and more Neorans fleeing for the safety of Neoran space as refugees with little to their names besides the clothes on their backs.

Anna Lorrondon-Helsak The chancellor of the planet Bowman secretly breaks the long term alliance with the Neorans. Unknown to anyone, she makes a new alliance with old enemies of both the Terrans and the Neorans. When she is approached by her old friend Russorin the Neoran representative she holds fast to her idea of neutrality for Bowman. This is despite Russorin’s predictions of bad things to come for both races.

With no other choice left to her, Russoran turns to the free city of Breton-Katt for help. The city, a center for learning and commerce, is the Neoran’s last hope for an ally in Terran space. There, she uncovers a web of murder and blackmail Helped by Rob Lorrondon Anna’s son Russoran needs to get the alliance made and stop Anna’s plan to annex Bretton –Katt into Bowman. She needs to keep Anna from handing the city over to its enemies. But, will they be able to do this without triggering an all out war?

Science fiction can be hard genre to write. With so many books written already, it is very easy to start sounding like a rehashed plot. I’m glad to say that The Breton-Katt Alliance is not one of these books. Margaret Garside introduces her readers to a society in upheaval. Her story takes place in a universe which holds inhabitants whose ideals and communities are struggling with the ideas of sharing their resources and land with outsiders. Led by the stronger opinions of their leaders, the universe as they know it has become an unstable place to live. I look forward to the next installment of the Lorrondon Cycle, and seeing what sort of resolution to the conflict that has been introduced, in this first book of the series, is brought into action.

12 October, 2007

Book Review: When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger, with Susan Katz, illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews

Every culture has its own ways of celebrating the seasons. When the Shadbush Blooms shows young readers how the Lenape Indians (also known as the Delaware Indians) live according to the seasons.

The story is uniquely told from two different viewpoints. It is told by Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time. These viewpoints show us how the traditions have changed, yet stay very similar. David Kanietakeron Fadden‘s paintings grasp life in traditional times and current times extraordinarily. His paintings draw the reader in, and make them feel as if they were there as well.

The young reader that I shared this book with had a great time comparing the similarities between the different times. She seemed to enjoy learning about the traditions of the Lenape and following the adventures of the girls telling the story through their year.

I found this an engaging look into the lifestyles of one of the native tribes of the United States. I enjoyed the way the book was presented, and found the additional information on the Lenape in the back of the book extremely informative. This is a wonderful example of multicultural writing that shows how people live close to the land and themselves during the changing seasons.

10 October, 2007

Book Review: An Ocean of Air by Gabrielle Walker

Read & Reviewed for front street reviews

Have you ever wondered about the air that surrounds us? What is it that makes it such an adaptable substance? How does our atmosphere help life on Earth survive? Who were the men that gave us a better understanding of the air around us?

In An Ocean of Air, author Gabrielle Walker attempt to answer these questions and more. She reasons that the Earth is at the bottom of an ocean of air. She peels away the layers composing our atmosphere, and uses stories of the men who experimented on air to show us how it works. From Galileo’s experiments done during his confinement to his villa at Arcetri (in Florence), after his running afoul of the Inquisition, through to the modern day rush to discover space An Ocean of Air provides the reader with glimpses of science’s progression of discoveries to some of the mysteries posed by the air we breathe.

Gabrielle Walker has written a fantastic resource for anyone who is interested in science. Her explorations of the past experiments done on (in) our atmosphere are engaging, informative, and not at all dry. She brings her passion for the subject matter out in the open during the course of the book.

Some of the subject matter in the book, I was already familiar with. Galileo’s air experiments, while not as well known as his beliefs that the earth rotated around the sun – heretical ideas back during his lifetime, are still taught in physics classes. I did find some nee to me scientists while reading An Ocean of Air. I particularly found Marconi’s “wireless” device and its impact on the shipping field, and the resulting discovery by Oliver Heaviside of the electrical layer in the atmosphere (called the Heaviside layer) which made Marconi’s device work fascinating to read about. The book is presented in a well laid out manner, its facts are not to in depth nor or they simplistic making this a great book for anyone with an interest in the atmospheric sciences.

08 October, 2007

Book Review: Silk by Alessandro Baricco

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews.

In 1861, the journey to obtain silk was a treacherous one. Due to an epidemic that infected most of the European stocks of silk worms the men who buy the eggs of the worms were forced to travel further from home to replenish their stock.

Hervé Joncour is one such man.

Hervé Joncour is a buyer and seller of silk worm eggs for the silk mills in the French city of Lavillediea. Every year his travels take him away from home to Egypt and other African ports to buy the stock of his trade. Because of the epidemic, he is forced to undertake a dangerous and desperate journey over half the known world to buy healthy eggs from Japan. It is a dangerous and desperate trip. Travel, since the Suez Canal ha not been completed, takes months to get to Japan from France. Once there, Joncour is smuggled into the country as Japan’s ports are not yet open to foreigners. The price he will pay if caught taking silk worm eggs out of Japan is his death.

There he meets a woman, the mistress of his host. They do not touch, they do not speak to each other, and he can not read the letter that she gives him. Once Joncour hears what it says, he becomes a man possessed. When in France with his wife Helené Joncour is a man changed by the Orient. While in Japan he is trying to find ways to meet his host’s mistress without raising the suspicions of the townsfolk, and their lord.

Silk is an enthralling love story. It is haunting in it’s telling of two star crossed lovers fated to meet but never to act upon their love. It is told with simplicity and a moving plot that transports its readers to France in the late nineteenth century.

This edition of Silk is a movie tie in with the upcoming release of the film adaptation of the book (September 14, 2007). It has a new translation from its original Italian by Anna Goldstein. Silk was originally published in 1996 as Seta, with its first translation to English in 1997.

an update of sorts

As if I haven’t enough to read, what with trying to get caught up on the reviews I owe, I just received the two books I won during the Summer’s Hidden Treasures contes over the weekend.

The Halifax Connection by Marie Jakober
Wanderlust: a Social History of Travel by Laura Byrne Paquet

They both look amazing. I’m making myself get some writing done before cracking either of them open.

So, since I’ve been absent from the blog for as long as I have, I have quite a few reviews to add. I’ll be adding them probably every other day until I get caught up.

Also, I’ve got some really good looking books heading this direction, so keep checking back for the new stuff! There are some really cool books coming out/just out recently!

05 October, 2007

Book Review: The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

Josh Ryder did not believe in reincarnation. That is, he did not believe until the day of the bomb exploding in front of a church, that he was standing near, in Rome. From that point in time, his life would be forever changed.

As he recovers from the wounds he obtained in the blast, he starts to experience new sensations. Over and over again he is visited by the slight scent of jasmine and sandalwood, and brief flashes of light. These are also accompanied by images that seem to be intimate memories. Memories that are decidedly not his own.

Rather, they seem to be the memories of a man long dead. They belong to Julius, a high priest during a time of great unrest in ancient Rome. He is trying to keep his fellow priests and the Vestal Virgins they protect to survive when the many varied religions practiced in the Roman Empire have been outlawed in favor of Christianity.

Josh turns to the help of his uncle, and the Phoenix Foundation to try and make sense of the baffling images that have plagued him, despite the physiological tests that say nothing is wrong with his mind. The Phoenix Foundation works with children. More specifically, they work with children who are struggling with their own past life memories. Josh, is drawn into the foundations work himself adding his talents to the foundation’s staff, he helps with the regression therapy, and takes photos of the children. Trying to capture the light aura he sometimes sees around a child with an old soul.

The foundation is asked to visit an archeological dig site outside of Rome. The tomb being excavated is thought to hold an ancient treasure. Inside, is the well preserved body of a vestal virgin and a box containing what is thought to be the memory stones.

As Josh visit’s Rome for the first time since the accident, and the dig site, his memory flashes become more frequent, with an urgency he finds he can’t ignore. His wages, coupled with the visions that he has been witnessing, tell him to save a woman named Sabina, and the treasures she carries. But in this time of no one seeming exactly who they are, the question remains; who is Sabina land can Josh save her before she dies again?

The Reincarnationist is M.J. Rose’s ninth novel. It is, in this reviewer’s opinion also her strongest one. The story grabs onto the reader’s imagination and easily transports them into a story packed with intrigue, passion, and mystery. Fans of thrillers and fans of historical fiction will find things they like in this complicated plot which spans the centuries.