Saturday, July 23, 2011

Week 30: Winning at War

Winning at War: Seven Keys to Military Victory throughout History, by Christian P. Potholm

This is a much more serious and dense book than the others I've been reading lately, and it's taken me a while to read. It's a study of how to win at war. Potholm sets out seven rules for winning, and gives plenty of examples from history of armies that have obeyed each rule, or not. The elements he identifies are technology, sustained ruthlessness, discipline, receptivity to innovation, protection of military capital from civilians and rulers, will, and the belief that there will always be another war.

One thing that Potholm tries to make clear is that there really will always be another war, and that countries that do not prepare for that usually end up paying the price in human lives.

It's a really fascinating book, and I'd recommend it to those interested in history.

Week 30: The 100-Year-Old Secret

The 100-Year-Old Secret, by Tracy Barrett

Well, as long as I'm reading mysteries and Sherlock Holmes knock-offs, I'll read this one too. Xena and Xander Holmes, the great detective's great-great-great grandchildren, move to London and decide to try to solve one of their ancestor's unsolved puzzles: the disappearance of a famous artist's painting. It's a nice little kid's story, not hard to read--and of course, it's going to be a series.

The mystery that isn't solved is how Sherlock Holmes managed to find a girl willing to marry him!

Week 29: Unnatural Death

Unnatural Death, by Dorothy Sayers

Another late post! I felt like reading a Sayers classic, and picked Unnatural Death up from the shelf. In this story, Lord Peter Wimsey investigates the death of a sick, elderly lady--and if I say any more I'll spoil the story. It's a good one, though--Dorothy Sayers has never been bettered.

The title has gone through plenty of printings, of course--this ugly cover is the one I own.

Week 29: The Baker Street Letters

The Baker Street Letters, by Michael Robertson

This was an OK light mystery. Two lawyer brothers, having taken over the office block on Baker Street in London, are obligated by the lease to answer the letters that show up for Sherlock Holmes. One brother realizes that there's a real mystery to be solved, and takes off for Los Angeles, with the other brother chasing him to bring him back to his senses. It wasn't terribly Britishy, and the mystery was all right but not great--like many modern books that leverage classic names to get recognition, it can't live up to the standard it implies by invoking Sherlock Holmes. But it was reasonably fun.

I'm a week late with this one!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week 28: The Scent of Water

The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge

I heard this book praised as one of Goudge's best, so I got it from the library, and I was not disappointed. It was lovely.

Week 28: The Anvil of the World

The Anvil of the World, by Kage Baker

Kage Baker wrote very little fantasy, just this one trilogy that starts with The Anvil of the World. There are several races on this world: The Children of the Sun, the Yendri, some demons, and I'm not sure what-all else. It was pretty good, but I don't have much to say about it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week 27: Patty Fairfield and Patty at Home

Patty Fairfield and Patty at Home, by Carolyn Wells

The Patty Fairfield series dates from the early 1900's. There are about seventeen of them, and I read the first two, which are really all about housekeeping. Patty is 14 and motherless, and her doting father sends her to live with various relatives for a year so that she can learn about how different people live and about proportion in housekeeping. The first house is too ostentatious, the second too intellectual, the third too chaotic and careless, and the last is just right. It's the Goldilocks of housekeeping! Patty loves all her relations, but everyone is most comfortable and happy in the last home.

In the second book of the series Patty is 15 and setting up housekeeping for herself and her father. They buy a house, furnish it, and Patty learns through experience how to keep in proportion herself.

They're fun books to read if you like those old-fashioned series and details about life 100 years ago. I believe the rest of the series has much less housekeeping and much more travel and romance. I downloaded them free from the Kindle store and it looks like the whole series is there, but I think I've had enough of Patty for the moment.

Week 27: The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire, by Rick Riordan

This is the second volume of the Kane Chronicles, Riordan's latest series based on Egyptian mythology. Although the characters feel a little flat and hard to know, it's a great adventure book that I really enjoyed. All the Egyptian mythology is really interesting and makes for a good story.