GAYLE D. - Reviews

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California Gold
California Gold
Author: John Jakes
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 4/13/2009


California, supposedly "the world's paradigm of hope and opportunity," is Jakes's ( North and South ) setting for this novel about Mack Chance, an underdog whose ascent from poverty to affluence is a classic American success story. Like so many ambitious dreamers, Mack, an indigent Pennsylvanian, arrives in San Francisco in 1887 determined to make his fortune. To his dismay, he finds hardship, violence, bigotry, lawlessness and a city caught in the stranglehold of rapacious Southern Pacific railroad tycoons. Mack meets two bewitching women--rich, emotionally unstable Carla Hellman and dynamic Nellie Ross, a reporter for W. R. Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. After striking oil and becoming an orange grower, Mack prospers, but is left heartbroken when career-oriented Nellie won't marry him. He impulsively weds Carla, with disastrous results, while alienating many influential men by championing liberal causes. With strong commercial appeal, the novel potently conveys the raw, irrepressible vitality of California, but the historical backdrop (especially the 1906 earthquake) outshines the conventional rags-to-riches plot. Jakes's impressive research, plus his lively depictions of Hearst, Ambrose Bierce, Leland Stanford, Teddy Roosevelt and others, enriches the story considerably.


Heart of the Wilderness
Heart of the Wilderness
Author: Janette Oke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/13/2009


Heart of the Wilderness is an inspiring story about the experiential growth of a young girl into a women set on the backdrop of trapper country. Young Kendra lost her mother early in life and is raised in a "man's" world of wilderness and trapping with her father and the strong influence of North American Indian beliefs. As she matures, Kendra and her father search for the "proper" way to raise and educate a "proper" lady. Kendra's intelligence finds her in college and influenced heavily by a loving Christian family. The conflicts she faces are as real as her resolutions revealing. Kendra faces changes such as growing up in buckskins and then needing to learn social graces; growing up strong and independent and entering a society of submissive women; never thinking of a god and her best friend being a devout Christian. Her growth is most believable and most challenged when she returns a new women to her home of origin. This story is refreshing because it resonates with timely themes without the usual outcomes. Themes such as the role of women in society, the pressures youth face, struggles with religious growth, and family interactions are treated with a fresh outlook of triumph and peace.


Heart of the Wilderness (Women of the West, Bk 8)
Heart of the Wilderness (Women of the West, Bk 8)
Author: Janette Oke
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 4/13/2009


Kendra was not yet four when her parent's died in a river accident. She had to live with her grandfather George MacMannus who was a trapper in the wilderness. Every time that George would go out, he would summon an old Indian woman named Noni to come to stay with Kendra. Although Noni didn't say much, she tought Kendra all about the wilderness. She tought her what kinds of plants to eat, which one's were poisonous, and which one's to use for medicines. Also, she tought her about how to respect the earth and animals, and that they were all her relatives. Papa Mac, what Kendra called her Grandfather, didn't want Kendra to believe in Noni's fables, which led Kendra searching for something more. Kendra's desire for knowledge leads her from her wilderness home to the home of her Papa Mac's trusted friend Maggie where she attends school. Will she find the answers that she is looking for? This is a an exciting book to read, and one of Janette's better books.


My American Journey: An Autobiography
My American Journey: An Autobiography
Author: Colin L. Powell, Joseph Persico
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 4/13/2009


My American journey" is the story of Colin Powell. He is the living symbol of the American dream. Powell was born in Harlem, and grew up in South Bronx. His parents were hard-working immigrants from Jamaica. He went to school in New York, and later joined the ROTC. "My American Journey" is a very well written biography. Together with lots of pictures from Powell's personal life, from his childhood in Bronx, and ending with his official career in the White House, the easygoing writing style makes this an interesting read. I truly enjoyed learning more about the Vietnam War and the bravery of the US soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. Additionally, after reading what Powell and Schwartzkopf experienced during the Vietnam War, I can better understand Powell's Gulf goals and actions. Previous to reading this book, I did not have a lot of knowledge about Panama and the invasion, therefore I found this part to be very interesting too.
The book provides us with a great study of leadership, while it also is a good study of military history and politics. "My American Journey" is an excellent story and example that shows us what possessing a strong motivation and integrity can lead to. You certainly do not need to be an American to appreciate the positive attitudes and the message that Powell sends through his book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read about an interesting life, leadership, military history, and politics.


Stranger in Savannah (Savannah Quartet, Bk 4)
Stranger in Savannah (Savannah Quartet, Bk 4)
Author: Eugenia Price
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 4/13/2009
Helpful Score: 1


As an avid reader of books centered on the Civil War, I found this book to be an excellent portrayal of the trials and tribulations of a country divided. Eugenia Price not only tells a deep, involved story, but she also presents the facts behind the Civil War from the perspectives of rebels, unionists, and southern union sympathizers. Every perspective is explored in this book. Ms. Price also uses real people in her books which makes them that much more interesting. She writes her story from actual letters that were exchanged by some of the people in the book like General Lee, Mary Custis, W.H. Stiles, and Eliza McQueen Mackay. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves stories of the Old South, The Civil War, or just a good old-fashioned love story. This book will not let you down!


The Twilight of Courage
The Twilight of Courage
Author: Brock Thoene, Bodie Thoene
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 40
Review Date: 4/13/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Quite possibly the two greatest driving forces in the universe, Brock and Boede Thoene write a version of fiction so real, it makes me want to go down to the library and search for the characters names in the microfisched newspapers. I've been reading their work since I was twelve and I get more and more out of each book every time I read them. This book is a true portrait of struggle with subtle but deeply embedded overtones of faith. The Twilight of Courage is one of brightest stars in my library and a magnificent read.
The Thoenes spent four months on a barge in Paris, with assistants, researching this work. They asked elderly Parisians this question: Where were you the day France fell? Seemed they all had a story. From those stories came this book.That's what I love about the Thoenes' work. Winston Churchill said something about hinges, that isn't interesting upon what small hinges events turn. The Thoenes seek out those hinges and give them a rightful place by recording them. Fact couched in fiction? Sometimes that's the only way a story can be told. That it is told at all is the only thing that matters. From Marcus Aurelius..."Look beneath the surface; let not the quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee..."


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