Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Chimes (Christmas Books) by Charles Dickens, Richard Armitage (Narrator)

4 of 5 stars  ****

The Chimes, is classic Dickens rich with description and mood. The narrator for this Audio version is Richard Armitage, who is superb delivering its content. More than the story, itself, the richness of Dickens's choice of words creates visions and sensations worthy of captivating audiences, whether they be listeners or readers. Case in point, quote from, The Chimes:

Chapter Three, Third Quarter:

Black are the brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters when the sea of thought, first, heaving from a calm, gives up its dead. Monsters uncouth and wild arise in premature, imperfect resurrection. The several parts and shapes of things are joined and mixed by chance and when and how and by what wonderful degrees, each separate from each and every sense an object from the mind, resumes its usual form and lives again. No man, though every man is, every day, the casket of this type of the great mystery, can tell.

Listening to this short novel requires the listener to pay attention 'lest they miss the beauty of such prose.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger

5 of 5 stars  *****

This is a great book that describes the details of America's war with the Barbary Coast pirates of North Africa as the fledgling United States of America struggles to become a serious, prosperous country. This listener/reader's knowledge about this war is from high school history but, now, with this Audible Audio version of the book, a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sequence of events in the days of slow communication enlightens this reviewer to the sacrifice and bravery of the men who are willing to give their lives to secure freedom and safe passage of US merchant ships to trade with the rest of the world. 

Patriots who love the country from which their freedom and liberty derive, face an enemy that is the antithesis to the new Christian nation. This enemy is composed of Corsairs, pirates who are part of the Ottoman Empire, a Caliphate, who terrorize any ship that sails the southern coast of the Mediterranean from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Blackmail, butchery, and barbaric slavery intimidate nations into making this treacherous foe wealthy and powerful. European countries like Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain are willing to pay ransom for captured seamen or submit to coercion that brings the fickle leaders of Algeria, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli large sums of money, jewels, weapons, warships, cattle and anything else they demand. 

The United States becomes a paying member to this group for years under Washington, Adams, and Jefferson's presidencies. The obstacles in the way to confronting this formidable enemy are: a difference of opinion among America's leaders, financial debt that inhibits building a Navy and a force capable of defeating this enemy, and cooperation of Congress. 

It is Thomas Jefferson who listens to the men who have a history with the Barbary Coast and the pirates, themselves, before he decides to confront this nemesis who humiliates the United States in its first attempts to make peace with them. This is the body of the story where the details display the failures due to poor leadership, weather, and supplies, as well as the courage of those who turn the tables on the Corsairs and eventually create the safe shipping lanes for the United States and establish the young North American country as a force with which to reckon.

It is sobering to read this book and realize that the United States of America faces this enemy once again. The enemy is no longer the Corsairs but, rather, jihadists looking to serve a Caliph in a new Caliphate. The fanatical barbarism is the same ideology that perverts freedom, liberty, and everything for which the United States of America stands.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman (Goodreads Author and Narrator)

How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman

4 of 5 stars  ****

How to Publish Your Book is part of The Great Courses offered by Audible books. Jane Friedman narrates this course with eloquence and professionalism. This book dispels the myths that many may have about becoming a successful author just because they are published. She points to the internet ease of pushing a key to publish anything anyone writes. The self-published are not necessarily increasing their chances of success; rather, they can actually hurt their chances of becoming a successful writer.

This book lists the big publishing houses and what their editors are looking for when a properly formatted manuscript is submitted. The submission process is also important if one desires to have a chance at getting their work read. She lists the "Do's and Don't's" of submitting papers and approaching publishers. There is an etiquette in the industry that must be observed to enhance one's chances. Once an editor is reading a story, it must have a good narrative thrust, a cohesive intention from one chapter to another to hold the reader's attention or else the editor stops reading the story.

Ms Friedman also informs readers that the story, itself, is more important than grammar or spelling. When all is said and done, over 99 percent of new authors' submissions are either rejected or ignored. The publisher has a big investment in a published, distributed, and advertised book. They expect a respectable return for their investment. Because of this, they usually stay with known, well qualified, tried and tested authors whose novels appeal to a large population waiting for their next novel to be written.

This book is not intended to discourage writers; rather, it strives to be realistic by explaining the history of publishing and the nuts and bolts of the business. Advice comes in the form of "Do's and Don't's" throughout the process and the purpose why one writes. Jane believes that one should write about what is important to the writer and not write for the audience. She believes the best writing comes from such authors.

How to Publish Your Book is the kind of book this author and reader will refer to from time to time to avoid the wasted time people experience in writing then submitting their work for publication. I would call this a reference book because it is comprehensive in covering all the genres and their particular rules to follow when approaching the appropriate publisher.