Amy B. (BaileysBooks) - Reviews

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1066 : The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry
1066 : The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry
Author: Andrew Bridgeford
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 1/17/2011


For centuries, the Bayeux Tapestry has been hailed as a written record of the Norman Conquest of Britain after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This book takes that assumption and quite soundly turns it on its head.

I didn't know anything about the Bayeux Tapestry when I started this book and I finished it feeling very well informed. The author does a nice job of providing information to piece together the earliest history of the tapestry: from the many theories of its artisans to the secret of its preservation in near mint condition for nearly a thousand years when so much else from medieval times has been completely lost to history.

Bridgeford walks the reader through the tapestry one scene at a time, providing historical references of the era, perspective regarding the "accepted" interpretations, and arguments to the contrary that support his theories.

This book is well written and organized. The arguments presented to support this English/French-perspective theory are succinct and well-researched. The author makes a compelling argument to back up all of his points and is willing to concede that there is much about the tapestry that simply cannot and will not ever be known. But after reading this book, it is hard to see the tapestry in any other way except for the way in which Bridgeford presents it.

There are color pictures of the tapestry in the book, but the formatting of the binding causes the edges of the tapestry photos to continue well into the center of the book, making the details of those edge plates very hard to look at clearly. For a book that is all about the interpretation of a tapestry, I was rather disappointed that the pictures of that tapestry were so poorly displayed.

Otherwise, I have no complaints about this book. It was informative and easy to read. It was non-fiction, history, research, and forensics all rolled into one and I am very glad that I read it.


1066: The Hidden History In The Bayeux Tapestry
1066: The Hidden History In The Bayeux Tapestry
Author: Andrew Bridgeford
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 1/17/2011


For centuries, the Bayeux Tapestry has been hailed as a written record of the Norman Conquest of Britain after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This book takes that assumption and quite soundly turns it on its head.

I didn't know anything about the Bayeux Tapestry when I started this book and I finished it feeling very well informed. The author does a nice job of providing information to piece together the earliest history of the tapestry: from the many theories of its artisans to the secret of its preservation in near mint condition for nearly a thousand years when so much else from medieval times has been completely lost to history.

Bridgeford walks the reader through the tapestry one scene at a time, providing historical references of the era, perspective regarding the "accepted" interpretations, and arguments to the contrary that support his theories.

This book is well written and organized. The arguments presented to support this English/French-perspective theory are succinct and well-researched. The author makes a compelling argument to back up all of his points and is willing to concede that there is much about the tapestry that simply cannot and will not ever be known. But after reading this book, it is hard to see the tapestry in any other way except for the way in which Bridgeford presents it.

There are color pictures of the tapestry in the book, but the formatting of the binding causes the edges of the tapestry photos to continue well into the center of the book, making the details of those edge plates very hard to look at clearly. For a book that is all about the interpretation of a tapestry, I was rather disappointed that the pictures of that tapestry were so poorly displayed.

Otherwise, I have no complaints about this book. It was informative and easy to read. It was non-fiction, history, research, and forensics all rolled into one and I am very glad that I read it.


Academ's Fury
Academ's Fury
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 12/31/2012


This is Book 2 of The Codex Alera series.

The first book in this series was mostly set-up, but this one wasted no time getting to the fast-paced action and intrigue that had the feel of a later edtion Dresden book, and it carried that momentum to the very last pages. And while this series is not The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher shows that he still knows how to beat up his main character without mercy or remorse. Tavi spent most of this book in the epicenter of serious conflict, and he did so with little or no sleep, multiple minor injuries, and possibly a concussion. The other supporting characters were also neck deep in disastrous conflicts of their own, and the pages of this book flew by without effort.

In typical Butcher fashion, the series seems to be getting better with each book. Character development continues to be realistic and engaging, the plot is complex but not confusing, and the ending offers the glimpse of a twist (although I wasn't totally surprised to see it coming) that will significantly impact the remainder of the series. These books have a lot of heart and are tons of fun to read. Other than the continuation of some careless typos, I have no real complaints.


Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, Bk 2)
Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, Bk 2)
Author: Jim Butcher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 148
Review Date: 12/31/2012


This is Book 2 of The Codex Alera series.

The first book in this series was mostly set-up, but this one wasted no time getting to the fast-paced action and intrigue that had the feel of a later edtion Dresden book, and it carried that momentum to the very last pages. And while this series is not The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher shows that he still knows how to beat up his main character without mercy or remorse. Tavi spent most of this book in the epicenter of serious conflict, and he did so with little or no sleep, multiple minor injuries, and possibly a concussion. The other supporting characters were also neck deep in disastrous conflicts of their own, and the pages of this book flew by without effort.

In typical Butcher fashion, the series seems to be getting better with each book. Character development continues to be realistic and engaging, the plot is complex but not confusing, and the ending offers the glimpse of a twist (although I wasn't totally surprised to see it coming) that will significantly impact the remainder of the series. These books have a lot of heart and are tons of fun to read. Other than the continuation of some careless typos, I have no real complaints.


Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, Bk 2)
Academ's Fury (Codex Alera, Bk 2)
Author: Jim Butcher
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 12/31/2012


This is Book 2 of The Codex Alera series.

The first book in this series was mostly set-up, but this one wasted no time getting to the fast-paced action and intrigue that had the feel of a later edtion Dresden book, and it carried that momentum to the very last pages. And while this series is not The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher shows that he still knows how to beat up his main character without mercy or remorse. Tavi spent most of this book in the epicenter of serious conflict, and he did so with little or no sleep, multiple minor injuries, and possibly a concussion. The other supporting characters were also neck deep in disastrous conflicts of their own, and the pages of this book flew by without effort.

In typical Butcher fashion, the series seems to be getting better with each book. Character development continues to be realistic and engaging, the plot is complex but not confusing, and the ending offers the glimpse of a twist (although I wasn't totally surprised to see it coming) that will significantly impact the remainder of the series. These books have a lot of heart and are tons of fun to read. Other than the continuation of some careless typos, I have no real complaints.


Agincourt
Agincourt
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 30
Review Date: 9/18/2011
Helpful Score: 1


This is a stand-alone novel that follows the campaign of Henry V as he seeks to claim the the throne of France. It is told from the point of view of the archer and outlaw, Nicholas Hook.

The story follows Hook from his home in England, to the disaster at Soissons, to the protracted siege of Harfleur, and finally to the killing fields of Agincourt on a muddy October morning in 1415.

For a stand-alone novel by Cornwell, the character development is good, the action is typically gory, and the descriptions of armor, tactics, and weapons are sufficient almost to the point of excess. I enjoyed the portrayal of Henry V and found Hook to be a worthy character to follow on this journey.

In all, this is an easy win for fans of Cornwell and one that I would quickly recommend.


Agincourt
Agincourt
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 9/18/2011


This is a stand-alone novel that follows the campaign of Henry V as he seeks to claim the the throne of France. It is told from the point of view of the archer and outlaw, Nicholas Hook.

The story follows Hook from his home in England, to the disaster at Soissons, to the protracted siege of Harfleur, and finally to the killing fields of Agincourt on a muddy October morning in 1415.

For a stand-alone novel by Cornwell, the character development is good, the action is typically gory, and the descriptions of armor, tactics, and weapons are sufficient almost to the point of excess. I enjoyed the portrayal of Henry V and found Hook to be a worthy character to follow on this journey.

In all, this is an easy win for fans of Cornwell and one that I would quickly recommend.


The Alchemist
The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho, Alan R. Clarke (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 744
Review Date: 8/12/2008
Helpful Score: 27


I had such high expectations for this book. In the end, I was very disappointed. The story was very simple, very predictable, and came across like a children's story attempting to play dress-up as a deep, spiritual, inspirational epic.

Fortunately, this book was short (less than 200 pages) so I didn't feel like I wasted too much of my time. If you are looking for a simple little tale and aren't looking to get much out of it (or you're 12 years old) then perhaps this would be worth a look. But if you want more out of this book than that, perhaps you should skip it and look for something else.


The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Author: Paulo Coelho, Paulo Coelho
Book Type: School Library Binding
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 8/13/2008


I had such high expectations for this book. In the end, I was very disappointed. The story was very simple, very predictable, and came across like a children's story attempting to play dress-up as a deep, spiritual, inspirational epic.

Fortunately, this book was short (less than 200 pages) so I didn't feel like I wasted too much of my time. If you are looking for a simple little tale and aren't looking to get much out of it (or you're 12 years old) then perhaps this would be worth a look. But if you want more out of this book than that, perhaps you should skip it and look for something else.


The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Author: Paulo Coelho
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 51
Review Date: 8/13/2008


I had such high expectations for this book. In the end, I was very disappointed. The story was very simple, very predictable, and came across like a children's story attempting to play dress-up as a deep, spiritual, inspirational epic.

Fortunately, this book was short (less than 200 pages) so I didn't feel like I wasted too much of my time. If you are looking for a simple little tale and aren't looking to get much out of it (or you're 12 years old) then perhaps this would be worth a look. But if you want more out of this book than that, perhaps you should skip it and look for something else.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 79
Review Date: 8/12/2008
Helpful Score: 2


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 536
Review Date: 8/8/2008
Helpful Score: 2


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 8/12/2008


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 8/12/2008


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist
The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 8/12/2008


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist (Lazlo Kreizler & John Moore, Bk 1)
The Alienist (Lazlo Kreizler & John Moore, Bk 1)
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 103
Review Date: 8/12/2008
Helpful Score: 2


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


The Alienist (Wheeler Large Print Book)
The Alienist (Wheeler Large Print Book)
Author: Caleb Carr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/12/2008
Helpful Score: 1


The Alienist is a 19th century murder mystery set in New York...it's CSI meets Sherlock Holmes.

A serial killer is loose in the underbelly of the city, and a very unlikely group of people band together in an attempt to solve the murders. It's a story about cutting-edge criminal technology: fingerprinting, character profiling, handwriting analysis, creative detective work, and the stealth required to pull off such an investigation without the real authorities catching on.

I found this book to be exactly what I am looking for: 19th century authenticity; a Holmes-like main character with competent and likeable sidekicks, an intelligent investigation, plenty of action, and an overall great plot.

I find this book to be an absolute must-read and I highly recommend it.


Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 44
Review Date: 3/16/2014


This is Book 3 of the Divergent trilogy.

As hard as it is to do with this book, I am writing a spoiler-free review.

I can't decide if I hated this book, or merely disliked it. I think I come out somewhere in the middle (but ever so slightly closer to hate).

Compared to all of the action and adventure that was packed into the first two books, this third book felt oddly dull. While the reader is finally given the opportunity to peer behind the curtain to learn about the world outside of Chicago, it isn't really enough to make you feel involved. After so much gritty interaction and conflict, this third book actually felt very sterile and somehow disconnected. Roth had a great opportunity there, and I feel like she squandered it completely.

Also, the format of the book changed. The first two books were told from Tris's perspective. This book alternates between Tris and Four for the entire length of the book. And while I was initially intrigued about the opportunity to spend more time inside Four's head, having him narrate every other chapter made for a rather disjointed reading experience. It was also confusing, because the "voices" for Tris and Four sounded exactly the same. I kept having to go back to the chapter heading to see which character was speaking.

The resolution of this book made me feel similar to the way I felt at the end of Paolini's Inheritance Cycle: disappointed, a little cheated, and haunted with the sense that much of this entire reading experience was a waste. I don't know what I was expecting, but I feel like Roth ruined a decent series by throwing together a slapdash storyline and subjecting her main characters to an unworthy, unsatisfying, and undeserved ending.

Is it a book (or series) worth reading? In all, I'm not sure. Divergent introduces the reader to an interesting (and plausible) dystopian world. Insurgent continues to move the plot forward, although it starts to get bogged down with unending conflicts. Allegiant seems to strike this strange contract where a lot is going on but nothing ever really happens, which isn't what you want in a series finale. The plot just got too heavy, too needlessly complex, and too overly introspective to remain plausible. The end result was that it simply collapsed under its own weight and the reader is left standing among the wreckage. Divergent started things off with so much potential. It is a shame that Allegiant was truly unable to deliver.


Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Allegiant (Divergent, Bk 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 216
Review Date: 3/16/2014
Helpful Score: 1


This is Book 3 of the Divergent trilogy.

As hard as it is to do with this book, I am writing a spoiler-free review.

I can't decide if I hated this book, or merely disliked it. I think I come out somewhere in the middle (but ever so slightly closer to hate).

Compared to all of the action and adventure that was packed into the first two books, this third book felt oddly dull. While the reader is finally given the opportunity to peer behind the curtain to learn about the world outside of Chicago, it isn't really enough to make you feel involved. After so much gritty interaction and conflict, this third book actually felt very sterile and somehow disconnected. Roth had a great opportunity there, and I feel like she squandered it completely.

Also, the format of the book changed. The first two books were told from Tris's perspective. This book alternates between Tris and Four for the entire length of the book. And while I was initially intrigued about the opportunity to spend more time inside Four's head, having him narrate every other chapter made for a rather disjointed reading experience. It was also confusing, because the "voices" for Tris and Four sounded exactly the same. I kept having to go back to the chapter heading to see which character was speaking.

The resolution of this book made me feel similar to the way I felt at the end of Paolini's Inheritance Cycle: disappointed, a little cheated, and haunted with the sense that much of this entire reading experience was a waste. I don't know what I was expecting, but I feel like Roth ruined a decent series by throwing together a slapdash storyline and subjecting her main characters to an unworthy, unsatisfying, and undeserved ending.

Is it a book (or series) worth reading? In all, I'm not sure. Divergent introduces the reader to an interesting (and plausible) dystopian world. Insurgent continues to move the plot forward, although it starts to get bogged down with unending conflicts. Allegiant seems to strike this strange contract where a lot is going on but nothing ever really happens, which isn't what you want in a series finale. The plot just got too heavy, too needlessly complex, and too overly introspective to remain plausible. The end result was that it simply collapsed under its own weight and the reader is left standing among the wreckage. Divergent started things off with so much potential. It is a shame that Allegiant was truly unable to deliver.


The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, Bk 4)
The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, Bk 4)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 3/15/2015


This is the first book in a spin-off series from the Mistborn trilogy.

Sanderson has indicated that he eventually wants to write two more Mistborn trilogies: one with 1940s or 1980's-style tech, and one with futuristic Star Trek-style tech, in order to show the evolution through time of the original Mistborn world. The Alloy of Law occurs 300+ years after The Hero of Ages, and is the first book in a spin-off Mistborn series, but it is not one of the aforementioned trilogies.

The Alloy of Law has a decidedly Wild West theme to it. The main characters, Wax and Wayne, are the proverbial sheriff and loyal deputy who are returning to the big city after decades spent in the untamed frontier. The basics of the Mistborn magic system are still in place, but they have weakened with time and have been effectively combined with gunfire.

This book was decidedly lighter and less complex than any of the Mistborn books. It was still over 300 pages, but it felt more like an appetizer than an entrée. The story moved along very quickly, skimming the surface rather than plumbing the depths, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Getting a glimpse into a post-Hero-of-Ages world (as well as some new metals!) was incredibly interesting, and showed a realistic advancement of time. I particularly enjoyed the constant banter between the two main characters. While I don't feel like I know them nearly as well as any member of Kelsier's crew, I am looking forward to the adventures that they still have coming.

Note: While all of Brandon Sanderson's books take place on different planets at different points in time, they are all tied together in a fictional universe that he calls the Cosmere. One common thread throughout all of the books is a character that makes a named or cameo appearance in every single book. When named, he is called Hoid. His overall story arc is still a mystery, but he is obviously important. In Ally of Law, he makes an unnamed cameo appearance on page 81 of the mass market paperback (described only briefly as the hobo at the wedding feast).

Recommended Sanderson reading order (should you be interested): Elantris > Mistborn 1-3 > The Emperor's Soul > Warbreaker > Stormlight Archives 1-2 > Alloy of Law trilogy (Alloy of Law + Shadows of Self + Bands of Mourning)


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