All writers read books to get their creative inspiration or research details for an ongoing project. The more information a writer has at his/her fingertips the easier it is to write that compelling yarn just itching to be told. I tend to mix my genres from historical suspense, paranormal suspense, historical biography, fantasy, historical fiction, romantic suspense, crime, science fiction, speculative fiction, and non-fiction in science or physics.
Accompanying the list of books I read in 2008 are several mini-reviews. A few of the books in the list have had a full review done that can be located on the side bar under "Book Reviews".
Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock
This book was first published in 1995. Graham Hancock contends that an ancient and highly advanced civilization had existed in prehistory sometime after the end of the last Ice Age. This civilization had passed on to its inheritors knowledge of astronomy, architecture and mathematics. The evidence is in the descriptions of Osiris, Thoth, Quetzalcoatl and Virachocha which predate-history.
From the back cover: “And Fingerprints of the Gods tells us something more. As we recover the truth about prehistory, and discover the real meaning of ancient myths and monuments, it becomes apparent that a warning has been handed down to us, a warning of terrible cataclysm that afflicts the Earth in great cycles at irregular intervals of time—a cataclysm that may be about to recur.”
I loved this book from the beginning, with its interesting correlations and illustrations to support his theories. Readers to take note this is a tome which will take a long time to read and think about.
The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake - Samuel Bawlf
On September 26, 1580, Sir Francis Drake arrived in Plymouth on the Golden Hinde, completing an epic 65,000-km circumnavigation of the globe. Drake had been gone almost three years, long enough for his wife and others to give him up for dead. No European had set eyes on Drake from April 1579 to November, until a Portuguese galleon was astonished to find an English ship south of the Philippines. Those seven months were under a “royal cone of silence” by order of Queen Elizabeth I. Drake’s sailors were forbidden to reveal their route on pain of death.
Samuel Bawlf provides a compelling case that Drake went much further north than the Californias, as far as southern Alaska. Nova Albion was at Comox on Vancouver Island, and Drake was the first European to visit British Columbia, two centuries before James Cook. The secrecy covered a secret strategy of England to establish its own trade route to Asia while keeping King Philip II of Spain in the dark. Bawlf had discovered over 20 16th-century Dutch maps that accurately described the Pacific northwest coast while those of the official maps of Drake’s voyage do not show those details. Drake’s maps had been censored by shifting the latitude south by 10 degrees. By comparing the old Drake maps with modern ones they show British Columbia’s complex Inside Passage: Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands to the Fraser River. There is also the mystery of the seven missing months in mid-voyage and the puzzling written accounts where Drake turns south because of “biting cold including freezing rain and floating ice”. It was thought that a Little Ice Age had occurred in the northern hemisphere at California.
I enjoyed reading this revealing history of Drake’s secret voyage which coincides with some of the theories from Graham Hancock’s book above, concluding in my mind that humans in control of their respective parts of the planet have been hiding information from the populations for centuries.
The Dragon Reborn - Robert Jordan
The Shadow Rising - Robert Jordan
The Fires of Heaven - Robert Jordan
Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan
New Spring - Robert Jordan
A couple of years ago I had been given books 7 and 8 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and once I was fifty pages into the seventh, I realized I needed to start at the beginning. The story was told as if the reader already knew the histories of the many characters, though the prologue was intriguing enough that I wanted to keep reading. There have been many comments about this series, not all complimentary; though from what I have read of the series so far the majority of negative comments come from people who must have short memories. There are so many characters, primary and sub, events, and background history, that it is difficult at times to keep track of everything. This is an epic series not unlike Tolkien’s masterpiece “The Lord of the Ring”, but instead of three books there are currently 11 volumes with a 12th being written by Brandon Sanderson who had been chosen by Harriet McDougal, (Robert Jordan’s wife), after Jordan’s death in 2007.
The Wheel of Time Series, in the high fantasy genre, began with “The Eye of the World”, followed with “The Great Hunt”. The Dragon Reborn is the third book in the series of a young man, Rand Al’Thor, afflicted with an inherited ability of being able to channel psychic power known as the “One Power”, though he has great difficulty in controlling it. He is destined to fight to the death against the Dark One.
For an overview of this series and the individual books Wikipedia has incorporated many of the major elements into several summaries. It can be found here.
For those readers and fans of The Wheel of Time series my favourite characters are Al'Lan Mandragoran, a body guard who is a weapons expert and very dangerous, and Matrim "Mat" Cauthon, a young man always into mischief and consequences of that mischief.
The Lady and the Unicorn - Tracey Chevalier
I started this book twice and never got beyond the first chapter. A book needs more than a famous painting on its cover to keep me reading; and the cover intrigued me enough to take the book home. Currently, the book is in the bag slated for the library donations and might face a reprieve if a commenter can tell me why I should try a third time.
Conquistador (alternate history) - S. M. Stirling
I loved this book from the start though it takes about 90 pages in before the story becomes really exciting. He has a nice lead-up into the action providing the backstory in easy doses. I am unable to provide a proper mini-review of this book because I never finished it; not because it failed to keep my interest. I had other pressing matters to attend to and never got back to the book. Once I have completed this book I will write a review, probably later in the year.
The following list of books have had full reviews done on them and are listed on the side bar under "Book Reviews".
Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda Leopard - Patrick O'Brian
Lady Chatterly's Lover - D. H. Lawrence
The Reincarnationist - M J Rose
Dissolution - C. J. Sansom
Dark Fire - C. J. Sansom
Vive Madame la Dauphine - Andre Romijn
The Memorist - M J Rose
Quantum Shift in the Global Brain - Ervin Laszlo
The following non-fiction books were partially read to provide information for my history and hiking posts on Canada.
The Penguin History of Canada - Robert Bothwell
Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking by John Hart - To get an updated copy go here.
A Veteran of 1812: The Life of James FitzGibbon by Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon (1894)
The Battle of Queenston Heights - Edited by John Symons (1859)
The Life and Times of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. by D.R. Read, QC (1894)
The Makers of Canada - General Brock by Lady Edgar (1904)
The Illustrated History of Canada - Edited by Craig Brown
The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 - Pierre Berton
Unknowing How the Sausage is Made
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