Category Archives: Book Reviews

Christmas Eve, 1914 (book review)

Christmas Eve, 1914Christmas Eve, 1914 by Charles Olivier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engrossing hour of audio.

This is one of the free books provided by Audible to their members and it was the first one that I actually liked. A fictional account of the Christmas Miracle of 1914 with the Germans and Allies declaring a truce for Christmas.

The real facts behind this are just as amazing, so impactful was the troop driven truce that commanders after 1914 never again allowed their troops the latitude to do something like this, realizing that it might soften the image of the enemy and the troops would realize the sham of the war.

The narration and acting in the audiobook was good. The story concise and the fact they got people that sounded British to me to play the British parts and a German to play the German part only made it that much more interested.

It is worth the time and I highly recommend it.

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Egyptian Mythology: A concise guide to the Gods, Heroes, Sagas, Rituals and Beliefs of Egyptian Myths (book review)

Egyptian Mythology: A Concise Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Sagas, Rituals and Beliefs of Egyptian MythsEgyptian Mythology: A Concise Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Sagas, Rituals and Beliefs of Egyptian Myths by Bernard Hayes
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A waste of time.

The book felt like the author took a student’s research paper and issued the details in a point by point basis. In fact it kept jumping around, giving no reference or background on the myths. The “facts” spit out at a rapid pace, with a lot of the facts having no relation to each other, so the book isn’t organized well.

The fact that they kept using examples from Greek or Chinese writers also seemed at odds with a text on Egyptian Mythology. For me that didn’t fit in at all and distracted.

If you want a very good education on Egypt, there is a full lecture series in the Great Courses (30 hours audible I believe). The mythology there covers everything here plus the historical and cultural contexts.

My other issue is that this book contradicts that lecture series (performed by an actual Egyptologist) and several other sources I read.

It isn’t even worth a free copy, go read Wikipedia you will get a better in depth look on Egyptian myths then this book.

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Lullaby (book review)

LullabyLullaby by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A ghostly camp fire story at its finest.

I have seen a lot of reviews talk about how they were disappointed it was so short, or that it was incomplete. This isn’t a trilogy novel, this is at its core, a ghost story to be told around the campfire, or after the lights have gone out.

The short story builds in tension, never quiet explaining everything and leaving you at a point in terror.

In other words perfect for a longer camp fire story and definitely worth the time.

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All Quiet on the Western Front (book review)

All Quiet on the Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I should have read this a long time ago.

There isn’t a lot more I can say that isn’t already covered by better and more prolific reviewers. I can say the story is intense and makes you feel like you are with the young German soldier as hell falls around him.

It is a very dark story though, one that I don’t recommend if you have PTSD, triggers or any fragility. It is one of those books I very much appreciate (much like the book I read last year ‘The Things They Carried’, a book with a lot of similarities, just this is about World War I, where last year’s book was about the Vietnam War.

I recommend you do it, but only once and only when you are feeling you are up for a challenge emotionally.

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30 Days of Night, Vol. 1 (book review)

30 Days of Night, Vol. 130 Days of Night, Vol. 1 by Steve Niles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think it would have been better if it stayed just a graphic novel.

I never have read the comic/graphic novel version of this. I listened to the audiobook and I thought it couldn’t make a difference, but I think in the end it does. It seems like this story relies on visual imagery that can’t really be placed in audio.

The story itself is very short, easy to listen to and at the time was a bit ahead of other things like this in the genre. However now decades later it gets lost to stories that are better and more refined. This isn’t on the author though, he did great.

The story itself is a simple thirty days in Barrow Alaska, vampires and a few survivors trying to make it out. I am curious with the sequels how they pan out, but this story itself is a good, self-contained vampire urban fantasy story that would fit in with White Wolf’s gaming system.

Like I said, not a bad story, but you probably get further and enjoy it more if you read the comic/graphic novel.

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History of Ancient Egypt (book review)

The History of Ancient EgyptThe History of Ancient Egypt by Bob Brier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The absolute best resource on ancient Egypt I have seen.

Bob Brier is probably the best presenting college professor I have had the pleasure of listening or watching. His absolute knowledge of the subject, the fact he is an Egyptologist himself and the only person to recreate creating a mummy I have heard of just underlines his knowledge.

He reviews 3,000 years of history in 30 hours or so, packing each 30 minute lesson full of interesting details. He clarifies many myths we are told about and underscores how they weren’t quite so primitive as we think.

The breadth of the entire course is massive. He brushes just about everything niche subject you would want to know about Egypt. Do you like medicine, he covers it some. Do you like magical and religious beliefs, there you go. Do you like drama and romance… even some of that is there.

You cannot go wrong listening to Bob if you like Egpyt. He has everything and I just can’t recommend his courses more.

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Dauntless (book review)

Dauntless (The Lost Fleet, #1)Dauntless by Jack Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nothing too new, but enough little things to make it interesting.

I wasn’t expecting to like this book very much. The last several military sci-fi or even just military fiction books have been disappointing. Maybe that makes me more open to this book, I couldn’t tell you.

What I can tell you is that while the character is by default a gary stu, it isn’t like most. They show were he can’t keep up with the expectations of those in the current day against his reputation and he can’t really process, understand or even approve of the tactics that have happened after his disappearance.

The character interaction is a higher level than expected, the tactics and just military writing shows that the author is very familiar with naval strategy and I think he brought his background in it for that pretty well.

I do recommend it, I am going to pick up the next book soon and get into it. Hopefully the first book was just the beginning.

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Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation (book review)

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to MeditationPracticing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation by Mark W. Muesse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It adds some detail to mindfulness, but isn’t a breakout.

I have understood the importance of meditation, mindfulness and especially in the Buddhist outlook and this definitely helps underscore that tradition of thought.

I firmly believe this is a good resource to those new with mindfulness and might give explanations in a way that makes more sense and perhaps is more accessible.

That being said, if you are already comfortable with the idea of mindfulness, you probably don’t need this book.

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Great Mythologies of the World (book review)

Great Mythologies of the WorldGreat Mythologies of the World by Grant L. Voth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Type: Audible
Length: 31 hours 36 minutes

An incredibly brief but informative journey around the world!

This was a great series of lectures of mythology from around the world. I wouldn’t say it is the most in depth, but it covers so many cultures that it surprised and entertained me.

As someone who has read a lot of Greek, Roman, some other European and Egyptian mythology there was nothing surprising. I have heard all these before and in more depth, so it was a disappointment. However, this is an overall view so of course they would skim the surface not dig deep.

The beauty of this was in the other Middle Eastern myths, Southeast Asian myths and African myths. I am sure they are much like the Greek and Roman mythology covered. They are probably the very basic myths and not connected well between then. However, they were brand new to me and have inspired me to check them out closer.

The one problematic area were the Native American myths. Most of them were great, I enjoyed listening to them. The problematic myth though involved what seemed to be a tale about a child watching her father be with what seems to be a two-spirit or possibly transgender lover and in the end that lover killed her father.

What bothered me greatly about this was his constant reference of that being/person/creature being a transvestite and how it was wrong. I do admit it felt personal and in full disclosure I am transgender myself, but his CV indicates no professional experience with Native American subject matter (that isn’t anything he is listed as being a specialist in) and it felt like a personal conservative viewpoint with an agenda. The rest of his myths seemed fine, but his personal observations on that one are what bothered me a lot and is why it only gets a four.

Like many of their courses, I definitely recommend this course in mythology. It is well worth the time, money and effort to get through almost 32 hours of courses. Or at least it was for me.

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Marching with Caesar: Birth of the 10th Legion (book review)

Marching with Caesar: Birth of the 10th Legion (Marching With Caesar, #1)Marching with Caesar: Birth of the 10th Legion by R.W. Peake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great historical fiction novel based around two men entering the 10th Roman Legion!

To be honest I was very surprised. When I first heard of the book I thought it would be a mid-grade pulp novel at best and that was what I was prepared for. Fortunately that wasn’t the case and I was happy with the surprise.

The story keeps itself tight. Starting with an older Roman Commander who relates to his scribe his life on joining the 10th Legion. I was a little worried, I have seen this trope before, but it didn’t feel cliche and it seemed to work. Starting with his childhood and working into the first battles of his career and returning home for the first time.

Overall the characters are well fleshed out and you can see growth in them. The action scenes aren’t overwhelming and it just feels like the author followed historical events about the formation of the 10th close and he does it well enough that it doesn’t annoy people who like history itself.

It was great to finally get a fictional book that I enjoyed, instead of dreading every page turn I gulped through the book like a man starving. I am definitely going to be picking up his further novels in the series and I can’t recommend it enough.

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