Review: Band of Brothers

Encore review!

Title: Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne

Author: Stephen E Ambrose

This non-fiction book is the basis for the TV miniseries of the same name. It focuses on an American paratrooper company, the first of its kind, and takes them right through World War II. It highlights some of the soldiers and officers and gives an account of them through every action. Their first battle was on D-Day and they stayed in the center of things in Europe right through V-E Day and beyond.

Some things the book did well. For the first time, I really understood why so much looting occurs after a battle. It also gave a really good picture of how this company became so close and why that is important for survival during a battle.

However, the names and places sort of all blurred together in my mind. Major Winters was one exception, but for the most part, I had a hard time telling the soldiers apart. I liked the ‘Where Are They Now’ section in the back, but what would have really helped would have been more pictures. Same with the places. I am not strong on geography, and some of these places were pretty small. I don’t know why they didn’t include a single map, but it was a major oversight.

The story got me interested enough to do a little research on my own. I found that this book is a little controversial – not everyone involved felt it was an unbiased account, and some felt that Ambrose’s scholarship was a little sloppy. However, it was a good story and now I’d like to read more from some other writers about their own experiences. Recommended, but it could have been a better book.

Can’t Get Enough Hamilton

Who doesn’t love this guy? Besides Aaron Burr. Which brings me to this book I read: Duel with the Devil by Paul Collins.

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The subtitle here is: The true story of how Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr teamed up to take on American’s first sensational murder mystery. It was pretty sensational, and I loved the look at how the court system has changed, but I was really reading it for the interplay between Hamilton and Burr.

Elma Sands and Levi Weeks lived at the same boarding house in Manhattan. They had a close friendship, so close that when she went missing, all eyes turned to him. Then her body turned up in a well nearby. He was arrested for her murder, just before the mob closed in and lynched him themselves. But was he really guilty?

The description of the early court system was really interesting. Hamilton and Burr both worked for the defense. NYC being as small as it was, everyone involved on the case knew each other and had worked together – the defense, the jury, the prosecution, the witnesses – they all had ties. Burr’s company even owned the well where the body was found. But there wasn’t a lot of room to choose anyone else.

This wasn’t the best book ever, but it was good. The author and I have very different takes on Hamilton and Burr. He would describe Burr as a war hero. Um, no. Not buying it. Burr was an opportunistic show-off. Hamilton was the true hero. And his description of the duel left out a few key parts. But the emphasis was on the trial, and he did a good job there. Recommended for those interested in New York, in law, or in the Founding Fathers.

I received this free in exchange for an unbiased review.

Winner of Biography Giveaway!

Time is up for my first big giveaway ever, and the winner is — (insert drum roll) —

Dominic from DP news!

Dominic, leave me a comment with your full name and address and I will mail your prize out to you. Don’t worry, I will not post it here or put you on any annoying mailing list, because I hate those too.

Here’s what Dominic wins:

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker by David J. Skal

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew by Max Egremont

Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family by Shelley Emling

All these were ARCs that I would like to share with someone else, and they’re all biographies.  Plus some grammar-themed children’s books.

Grammaropolis Presents Nelson the Noun

Grammaropolis Presents Vinny the Action Verb & Lucy the Linking Verb

Also a few bookmarks, stickers, maybe a trading card or two, and one steampunk coloring book.

If you didn’t win, I have more books to give away this year, including Rain by Cynthia Barnett, and Land on Fire by Gary Ferguson. Also, if I can figure out how to give away ebooks, I have several of those I received as ARCs which I could send on.

Working on a Biography Giveaway!

Who likes free books? Dumb question, right? Who doesn’t? My plan is to usher in the new year with a book giveaway. Right now, I have a stack of books waiting for a new home. Here’s the list so far, but it may change.

Free Swag: 

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker by David J. Skal

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew by Max Egremont

Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family by Shelley Emling

All these were ARCs that I would like to share with someone else, and they’re all biographies.  Plus some grammar-themed children’s books.

Grammaropolis Presents Nelson the Noun

Grammaropolis Presents Vinny the Action Verb & Lucy the Linking Verb

Also a few bookmarks, stickers, maybe a trading card or two, and one steampunk coloring book

It’s a small stack of books so far, but if you’d like to donate some goodies for the giveaway, I’d love to feature budding authors, small publishers, illustrators and so on.

EDITED

How to enter:

  1. Follow my blog.
  2. Follow me on Twitter @cindy_bohn
  3. Comment below with your favorite book from 2016

Make sure you tell me your user name. You can enter all three ways, but there will only be one winner. The contest runs until January 2 at noon, MST. Good luck to all of you!

 

Vampire book review!

xmasvamp

This one totally should have been up for Halloween, but I didn’t finish it in time, so Merry Christmas, bloodsuckers!

Something in the Blood: The  Untold Story of the Man Who Wrote Dracula

by David J. Skal

genre: non-fiction, biography, and horror

where did I find this: Received by Library Thing for an early review – Thanks!

I’ve always been bugged by the sparkly vampire type of story. Vampires should not sparkle. They shouldn’t be the heroes of any story. They are the villains. I’m okay with them as silly, campy villains like in Bugs Bunny or Scooby-Doo. I’m fine with them as menacing villains like in Buffy. I like a good comic vampire. But as a possible romantic partner? A misunderstood sort of fellow who agonizes over his need for blood but at the same time keeps it PG and clean, avoiding any real mention of the violence inherent in its very existence? No thanks.

In a new book by David Skal, the writer confronts head all the most disturbing aspects of vampires, and he does it with a scholarly thoroughness. The blood and gore, the violence, the sexual dominance, the violation – he really examines it, what it all means, and where it fits into Victorian society of the times. He uncovers all the little secrets of Bram Stoker and his influences. If you are a reader who thought Dracula was just a crackling good horror story, you would appreciate it so much more when you see what you missed.

But.

Why are we reading so much about so many other things? Where are you going with this, Mr. Skal? So many times listening to this, I  would just be getting into the story of Bram Stoker, when the writer would introduce a new character, like Oscar Wilde, or Oscar Wilde’s mother, or Oscar Wilde’s brother, or a friend of Oscar Wilde – seriously, why so many Wildes? – and we’d wander totally off the into somewhere else. By the time we meandered back onto Stoker, I had completely lost track of what he was talking about before.

So I don’t know how to rate this. I think I’m going to take the easy way out and give it 2.5/5 stars and split it right down the middle. Also, if it does sound interesting to you, I would recommend the print version instead of audio. The author read it, and he did a fine job, but like I said, sometimes I wanted to skip ahead and the tracking made it impossible for me to know when a chapter was coming to an end.