Samurai Links

I like the discovery possibilities that come with Amazon Samples. Most times they are good value and since I am in one of my positive moods (inspired by this sample) I won’t waste my time (or yours) with going into the negatives. Except for one and it is my fault, not Amazon’s. In a fairly short period of time, my unread samples list rivals my currently-I-am-really-going-to-read-this-next list. To attack this problem, I dedicate my Kindle Paperwhite to (mostly) Sample reading and I’ll leave the lengthy stuff to the Kindle apps on my laptop. Facing strident phone calls from my friendly Yamaha dealer to report for periodic service with my bike, I packed my book reader along with the intent to get through several samples during a lengthy bike service procedure.

Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Sugimoto made my enforced confinement at the dealership too short. I was amazed that I finished the sample and still had time to return and review several points that provided me new information while making me smile at the skill and adroitness of the author’s expression. This was a great start to the day. I am unfamiliar with Japan, its history, its language and its culture. Anything I know about Japan comes from cursory observations provided by mass media which means that this sample provided a culture shock, although a pleasant one.

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Drop By, But Be Polite

Reading books from Carol Ervin’s Mountain Women Series is like going back to a childhood home after a long absence. In this case, I am sure to have a place to stay. The Boardinghouse is book five in this series. Readers should not be discouraged by the bewildering number of characters, each with their own backstory because Ervin helpfully provides a guide in the front of the novel which lists all the characters the reader will meet. Each introduction has a few keywords indicating what the backstory will contain. Reading all the books in the six-novel collection is a good idea for fans of TV series such as Dallas.

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Notes On: Hourly History Kindle Books

Hourly History books are just what they say, readers should be able to get through them in an hour. They are highlights of historically significant events and personalities. I am sure academic historians could savage these summaries by pointing out that not all points of view were considered, the lens of cultural sensitivity may not have been attached, and even some dates might be disputed by experts. I hazard a guess that it was not the goal of writers involved with this project to forestall any and all objections by learned authorities. I don’t think such criticisms are fair. Rather, try this. As you go through one of these works, highlight something new you learned. There is a lot of general knowledge stuff here but you may be surprised to discover one or two things you didn’t previously consider. One of the things I found the authors of this project do well: they look at world events going on at the same time and the possible effects of peripheral events on the topic under discussion.

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When Purity is Less Than Pure

After figuring out that Reinheit by Thomas Flowers is a novel which has descriptions of German (Einzatsgruppen) wartime atrocities, it was interesting for me to know where the name came from. A translation of Reinheit is “purity.” That may have been stated in the novel somewhere but if so, I missed it. It makes a lot of sense on at least two levels after reading this fascinating tale told from the perspectives of two time periods. There is no time travel although there is a bit of fantasy involved. There may be some readers that believe the protagonist is a chair.

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Motion, Alchemy, and Prisms

In this selection of Hourly History books, Isaac Newton: A Life From Beginning to End, readers may discover some new facts about Newton’s thoughts and discoveries. Some readers might be inspired to dispute facts given. That’s good. It means they are inspired to read and do Google searches. I find these books valuable for my son. As a high school student, he has heard of the subject characters and events of most books in the series but may be unaware of ongoing academic controversies. These short, interesting, survey reads help to sponsor an interest in reading as the reader feels a sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing yet another book on the list.

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Mussolini: A Short History

BENITO MUSSOLINI A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History Limited is a book from a series of factual biographies meant to be read in about an hour. A reader can figure that out from the author credit. It gives readers like me; a fan of horror, crime fiction, and bizarre novels in general, a break from a guilty pleasure and gives me the illusion I am reading serious stuff. It is true that the material is serious but to fulfill its stated reason for existing, it must necessarily be a surface treatment of the subject. Can you imagine a one-hour treatment of the life of Winston Churchill? This series may have such a work but I won’t read it. Some subjects are more appropriate for a survey work. In my opinion, this is one of those.

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Who is James Madison?

James Madison: A Life From Beginning to End by a group called Hourly History presents a series of publications that present episodes and personalities in a proposed one hour read. This one has a subtitle One Hour History US Presidents Book 3. This seems perfect for my purposes as I seek material for English as Second Language learners. I looked at this work to determine what I believe the level of English required to read a non-fiction book in one hour.

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