Wednesday, October 24, 2012

American Patriots

American Patriots
Rick Santorum
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, for beyond its title I knew very little about it. However, when I cracked it open and discovered that in the introduction Rick Santorum explains that the real only difference between the American Revolution (resulting in the USA) and the French Revolution (resulting in The Reign of Terror) was that one side used God as its foundation and the other did not, I was pretty much won over. I’m hugely passionate about the differences between the two Revolutions, so to hear someone else say it just made my day.

So what is American Patriots about? Basically, it’s simply a collection of short biographies about the men and women who were the backbone of the founding of our country during the Revolutionary War. I hadn’t heard of very many of them, so this book I found to be filled with fascinating facts about the "regular" people of Colonial America.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Francis Marion. I live in a town where his praises are sung on every corner (okay, seriously, we have so many things named after him  that if you live in my town and haven't heard of him, you've been living under a rock), so it was interesting to read about the contribution he made to the Cause.

I learned about so many men and women I had sadly never heard of before- Peter Francisco (really enjoyed that one), John Laurens, Emily Geiger, Christopher Ludwick (that one was great, too), and Haym Salomon. There were some more recognizable names, too, like Nathan Hale and Phillis Wheatley.

American Patriots is a short book, but it’s chock-full of information and definitely worthwhile, especially for a history nut like myself!

Rating: 9

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Against The Tide

Against the Tide
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany house Publishers
As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

I was interested in this book because of The Lady of Bolton Hill, Ms. Camden’s first novel. Alexander Bainbridge was definitely my favorite character in that, so when I found out that he was the hero of Against the Tide, I was excited :) I really, really, liked Against the Tide- much more than The Lady of Bolton Hill. Not only did Bane interest me, but I found myself really liking Lydia, too. She was, I guess, a pretty "modern" Victorian woman, as she had a job as a translator for the US Navy. However, having this job in a society where most women married was not really portrayed as a feministic protest: it was for pure necessity. I really appreciated that Lydia was portrayed as strong woman without relying on fighting for Woman’s rights or something like that. I also actually really liked her relationships with her colleagues very much; they basically treated Lydia like a sister, with everything from teasing to protectiveness.

I also really liked her relationship with Bane- for some reason it really cracked me up whenever he’d rearrange her ink bottles, because it would drive her CRAZY. There were a couple more kisses than I would have liked, and it’s pretty obvious that Bane- who’s a Christian- falls in love pretty early with Lydia, who isn’t. Of course, Lydia does become a Christian in the end, but her faith (or lack of one) was never seen as the main deterrent in their relationship or Bane's reason for holding her at arm’s length. There were also a few flaws in each character that were not really addressed. That seems like an odd way of putting something, and I admit I find it a little hard to explain. Sometimes the characters did a few things that I don't think were right, but there was not any conviction about it. It didn't happen often (For Bane, for example, it was a tendency toward manipulation), but there were still a few times I wished the author had gone into the pitfalls of that a little more.

Anyway, the plot was great and original. It didn’t lag at all anywhere, and I pretty much read it in one sitting, which is saying a lot because it wasn’t a particularly short book!

Objectionable content: There were a few kisses. Bane and Lydia are crusading against the opium trade, so there is "drug" content; mainly the symptoms of opium addiction.

Rating: 9
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