While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America by Glen Alan Cheney

I entered a giveaway for this one and unfortunatley I didn't win, but the author Glen Alan Cheney sent me a copy anyway! I also have to thank Glen for his guest blog post.

About the Book

Thanksgiving is not a book about a holiday. It’s about something that a few dozen survivors did after a year of suffering, death, struggle, and courage.

They bowed their heads to give thanks.

The Pilgrims’ journey began as a joint venture of business and religion, but soon it became a matter of survival.

With 102 men, women, and children packed into a dim, wet space below the main deck, the Mayflower set out on a terrifying 66-day crossing of the Atlantic. They dropped anchor well north of where they’d intended, and just as the New England winter was setting in.

With no choice but to spend the winter in the dank, frigid ship, they took ill. One by one, almost half of them died. The few individuals well enough to work rowed the dead into shore and buried them in graves left unmarked so the Indians wouldn’t know how weak they were.

Spring promised only a year of toil and difficulties as they attempted to settle new land in a place they called Plymouth.

But then a miracle walked out of the woods...an Indian who had already crossed the Atlantic four times. He spoke English very well. He showed them how to catch the local fish and grow the local crops. He introduced them to the local people, and in an experience unique in colonial history, Europeans and Indians became friends and allies.

And that autumn, the new and native Americans came together for a feast that lasted three days. Thanksgiving is a book of fact that all but breathes with the human drama of life, death, birth, hope, prayer, work, desperation, and thanks.

Though these few dozen people were hardly the first Europeans to settle in North America, their values and beliefs grew into the American culture. We are what they were.

Every American should read this book before bowing for grace on Thanksgiving Day.

My Review

This was a very unique book. I have never really read anything like it before. I thought it was going to be a history book, and it was, but after getting to know the author a little bit I realized it was going to be an entertaining history book at the least... And it was!

I've never really been into history. I had very boring history teachers in school (with one exception) so I didn't really pay much attention to what I was learning. But I've found as an adult that there are so many people that are enthusiastic about history that they have a way of explaining what happened in a way that I actually care to hear what they are saying. That's not to say that I don't know any history, just that when I start reading a historical book I'm learning something for the first time.

It's funny how things get "skewed" when we learn them (well when everyone else learned them and I was doodling in my notebooks). And not that things get skewed in a bad way, but with the passing of time so passes many of the details and particulars of the events that have transpired. I knew about the Mayflower, and I knew the story of the first Thanksgiving, but I was very enlightened by reading this book. We meet the Pilgrims before they set sail to America, we get to follow them on their miserable (I think that's putting it nicely) boat ride, and their first year in America. There are so many things that happened that I didn't know about, and so many things that I remember learning differently. You can tell that Cheney has done his research and written a book that is a true to what occurred aboard the Mayflower and what happened when the Pilgrims arrived in America.

I think my favorite part of this book was that it felt like I was reading fiction, to an extent. Sure there are some sections that do come across like a history book, but for the most part I felt like I was just reading a story. The ability to write history in a way that holds my interest is a true feat! Kudos to Glen Cheney!

I really liked just about everything about this book. The cover is so simple, which really fits the book. I happened to receive a hard cover copy, so there was also a ribbon bookmark (I didn't know they still made books with ribbon bookmarks in them) and I LOVED it! The book also felt like it was an "old" book. To me reading old books (like ones that haven't been opened in 50 years) is a great experience I feel as if the book has it's own story, in addition to the one written in its pages, which makes reading it that much more of an experience for me. That was the feeling I had reading this book. I think I've grew very fond of this book because of that "old" feeling it has. Kind of like a kid with an old soul, you just feel something different than you do from any other kid. I usually donate my books to the library, as I will promote literacy in any way possible, but given my connection with the "old soul" of this book I think I'm going to have to hang on to it!

To learn more about Thanksgiving please visit the New London Librarium

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest Blog: Author Graham Parke

Today's guest post if from author Graham Parke. His book No Hope for Gomez looks to be pretty good. I'm waiting to see if I've won a copy or not. But in the meantime we can get a bit from Graham.

The Strange Truth Behind the Best Seller Lists, by Graham Parke.

We all know there’s more to creating a best seller than mere fine writing. There’s marketing, timing, luck, and much more. A few years back, I decided to find out exactly what it takes to create a best seller. My discoveries are sure to amaze you. I’m going to transcribe a revealing conversation I had with a prominent figure. I’ll be giving you this verbatim, because if I summarized, you probably wouldn’t believe me. So relax, grab yourself a glass of cucumber juice, and prepare to be stunned!

Tuesday, Feb 15th, 2007; inner office.

John: “So, if I understand you correctly, Mr. Parke, you’re here today to apply for a position of best selling author?”

Graham: “Internationally best selling author, yes. I’d like very much to be considered. I’ve brought writing samples.”

John: “Writing samples, yes, so you’ve mentioned. Mr. Parke, I have to ask, do you know what it is we do here?”

Graham: “Of course.”

John: “You’ve seen the signs throughout the building, then?”

Graham: “Yes. They state that you sell meat packing equipment.”

John: “Precisely. Meat packing equipment. So, to be brutally honest, I’m not entirely sure what it is you think we can do for you.”

Graham: “Come on… you know…”

John: “No, Mr. Parke, I really don’t. Now, if you’d be interested in a warehouse position, or something in accounting, I could hook you up today. Barring that…”

Graham: “Come on, don’t play dumb with me. I’ve brought writing samples, can’t you just take a look? I promise they’re good.”

John: “That’s entirely beside the point. Look, even if we weren’t in the business of selling meat packing equipment, I’m quite sure that you don’t actually apply for a position as a best selling author. It’s all down to sales numbers. They’re tallied per region. It all happens automatically I believe.”

Graham: “Come on. Everyone knows best sellers are chosen by a secret committee.”

John: “I don’t know much about publishing, Mr. Parke, but even to me that sounds like a load of fanciful nonsense.”

Graham: “Please, just look at the samples...”

John: “Are you sure you don’t want to take a job at our warehouse while you’re waiting for this writing gig to pan out? I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find good warehouse jockeys. You’d be doing us, as well as yourself, a favor.”

Graham: “I’m sorry John may-I-call-you-John it is sort of common knowledge that you, in fact, are the very people who decide the bestsellers.”

John: “I see. And who told you this strange tale?”

Graham: “It was Google, actually…”

John: “Ah. Yes. Well, the thing is, Mr. Parke, this blasted Information Age makes our task somewhat difficult. The ranks have to be kept small, you have to understand. We have to keep more people out then we let in. So I’m afraid we cannot simply make anyone who comes through these doors a best selling author.”

Graham: “Don’t worry, I really don’t expect you to.”

John: “Good.”

Graham: “Just make me one. That’s all I’m asking.”

John: ::sigh:: “So, what kind of best selling author were you hoping to become?”

Graham: “A mystery-slash-comedy author. I’ve brought writing samples.”

John: “That’s amazing!”

Graham: “It is?”

John: “Yes, that is simply amazing… that you actually believed your writing abilities would be under consideration. How wonderfully naïve.”

Graham: “Eh…”

John: “Have you ever taken a look at a bestseller list? I mean, a good look? What on earth makes you think that narrative voice or level of originality have anything to do with matters?”

Graham: “Well, I’d just assumed that if my writing was good enough…”

John: “How morbidly stupid of you… No, Mr. Parke, when I asked you what kind of best selling author you were hoping to become, I was of course referring to the number of first year sales, growth rate, staying power, that kind of thing. We need to keep the categories from over running.”

Graham: “Oh, I see.”

John: “Here, why don’t you fill out this form. It will tell us everything we need to know about you. I’m not making any promises here, but if you want to be considered, this is the only way in.”

Graham: “Really? Thank you so much. This is very cool of you. Let’s see, this doesn’t look too complicated, name, address, social security number. But, why does it say ‘Warehouse Job Application’ at the top of the form?”

John: “Don’t worry about that. It’s just a cover like the signs plastered all over the building. We have to at least appear to try and keep this operation hush-hush. I’m sure you understand.”

Graham: “Of course. My lips are sealed. So, what happens next? You’ll be in touch?”

John: “Just show up at the warehouse at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. They’ll tell you what to do. They might have you perform some little rituals for a while. Just go with it. All will become clear pretty soon.”

And so, dear reader, this is how I finally got my writing career on track. Of course, I cannot tell you the name of the company you need to apply to, I promised them I wouldn’t. But, just Google around a bit, you’ll figure it out.

I’d like to sign off by telling you about a little give-away I’m organizing from my forum. It’s a limited edition novelette set in the ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ universe. It won’t be availbe for purchase.

Reviews for No Hope for Gomez!

"Extremely witty and clever writing that contains keen insights into human nature." -- California Chronicle

"The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius." -- Readers Favorite

“A veritable page turner of nonstop laughs. Buy a copy and find out for yourself!" -- Reader Views

Well now that I know how to become a bestselling author I just need to find that warehouse. Any clues as to what city it's in? I think many of my readers would like to know :-)LOL...

I've read the first chapter of No Hope for Gomez and it looks like it would be a very interesting read. I am definately keeping it in the top of my TBR list.