Friday, 31 March 2017
The 1500s were a busy time for exploration in the Americas so I'll probably break this down to a few posts. You'll see also that some of the worst aspects of mankind are also featured. So without further ado, here we go. The 1500s -
"1500. Columbus is sent to Spain in irons by Bovadilla; November 5. - Columbus upon his arrival in Cadiz meets with Ferdinand and Isabella, who being ashamed of their course toward him, invite him to court and openly apologize for their conduct.
1501. Negro slaves are imported into Hispaniola.
1502. May 9, - The Spanish government send Columbus upon a fourth and last voyage.
1503. The Spaniards introduce Negro slaves into the West Indies.
1504. Columbus again arrives at St. Domingo.
1506. May 20. - In the fifty-ninth year of his age Columbus dies at Valodolid. The gold mines of Hayti yield great wealth to Spain.
1508. A Canadian Indian seen in France.
1512. Juan Ponce-de-Leon discovers Florida.
1513. September 26. - After exploring Central America, Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Darien and discovers the Pacific.
1515. Alonzo de la Rua, a Spaniard, begins the exploration of Peru.
1516. Nata, the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific Coast.
1516. The Rio de la Plata discovered.
1517. Charles V. grants a patent for an annual import of 4,000 Negroes from Africa.
1518. Mexico discovered by Grijalva, and gold in considerable quantities found."
Next entry will focus on Montezuma and Cortez..
Miscellaneous Letters from Eminent Person
This letter is from Charles Dickens to his son, Harry, on going to College.
"My Dear Harry:
I have your letter here this morning. I inclose you another check for 25 pounds. Now observe attentively. We must have no shadow of doubt. Square up everything whatsoever it has been necessary to buy. Let not a farthing be outstanding on any account when we begin together with your allowance. Be particular in the minutest detail. I wish to have no secret from you in the relations we are to establish together, and I, therefore, send you Joe Chitty's letter bodily. Reading it you will know exactly what I know, and will understand that I treat you with perfect confidence.
You know how hard I work for what I get; and I think you know that I never had money help from any human creature after I was a child.
Whatever you do, above all things, keep out of debt and confide in me. If you ever find yourself on the verge of any perplexity, come to me. You will never find me hard with you while you are manly and truthful. As your brothers have gone away one by one, I have written to each of them what I am now going to write to you. You know that you nave never been hampered by religious forms of restraint, and that with mere unreasoning forms I have no sympathy. But I most strongly and affectionately impress upon you the priceless value of the New Testament, and the study of that book as the one unfailing guide in life. Deeply respecting it, and bowing down before the character of our Saviour as separated from the vain constructions and inventions of men, you cannot go very wrong, and will always preserve at heart a true spirit of veneration and humility. Similarly I impress upon you the habit of saying a Christian prayer every night and morning. These things have stood by me all through my life; and remember that I tried to render the New Testament intelligible to you and lovable by you when you were a mere baby. And so God bless you. Ever your affectionate father,
(How many parents have had similar conversations or written similar letters to their children when they've left home?)
March 2017 Reading Summary
So here we go, my monthly stats. All in all, it's been a very good month and I'm keeping up with my overall Goodreads challenge of 120 books read in 2017.
March 2017 Total
Books read 11 33 (5 books ahead of schedule)
Pages read 2900 8,500
< 250 6 18
250 - 350 3 10
351 - 450 1 3
> 450 1 2
Female 3 7
Male 8 26
5 - star 1 2
4 - star 6 19
3 - star 3 11
2 - star 1 1
Fiction 1 3
Mystery 4 14
SciFi 5 15
Non-Fiction 1 1
Reading Group Challenges
I read 5 books in this challenge and that brings my total completed to 14 books. I'm currently reading The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner. I expect I'll finish the last two in April. (I've already pretty well sorted out what my follow-on 12 + 4 challenge will be.) Most of the books haven't been terribly long but for the most part they've all been interesting.
1. Philip K. Dick - Time Out of Joint (4 stars)
2. Clifford D. Simak - Time is the Simplest Thing (2 stars)
3. John Brunner - The Super Barbarians (3 stars)
4. Philip K. Dick - The Crack in Space (4 stars)
5. Michael Moorcock - Behold the Man (4 stars)
Canadian Fiction - I never read any more books in this grouping in March. So far I've read 1 of a possible 5.
1. Tony Hillerman - Listening Woman (Joe Leaphorn #3) (3 stars)
2. Ann Cleeves - Telling Tales (Vera Stanhope #2) (4 stars)
1. Victoria Thompson - Murder on Washington Square (Gaslight #4) (4 stars)
2. Rex Stout - The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe #2) (5 stars)
Fantasy / Science Fiction / Horror - I hoped to read at least 5 in each of these categories. At the moment I've neglected them all mainly due to my 12 + 4 challenge as I wanted to try to get a few different genres into my monthly reading. Depending on which 12 + 4 challenge I use as my next one, I will definitely be working on these genres for the rest of the year.
1. Sarah Waters - Fingersmith (4 stars)
Spy / Thriller / Adventure - I've not read any in this category yet. I had hoped to read 10 books in this category. Some of those I have outlined in my possible 12 + 4 challenge would fit into this grouping as well.
1. Bill Bryson - Shakespeare: The World as a Stage (3 stars).
Top 3 Books of March
"Fingersmith is the first book I've read by Sarah Waters. Some of my Book group friends had read it and gave it good reviews. The synopsis was intriguing enough that I thought it worth giving it a try.
I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started it and there were many little surprises contained within that kept intriguing me. Quite a different, unique story.
Sue Trinder is a fingersmith (hence the title), basically a pick pocket who works the streets of London for her adopted mother and other acquaintances. She lives in a back alley and we soon discover that her real mother was executed for crimes she committed and that Mrs. Sucksby promised to take care of her. Mrs. Sucksby makes a living buying unwanted babies and selling them on. She lives with Mr. Ibbs who runs a shop selling stolen goods. There are a cast of other characters who also live in the house, including John and Dainty. The other character of note is Gentleman, as he is called, who comes to Mrs. Sucksby with a scheme to swindle a rich man of his estate by marrying his niece, Maud. Sue is a key part of the scheme as she will become the girl's maid.
There you have the story in its simplest, but don't even think that that's it and all about it. There is a great deal of plotting and neat little twists and turns that you won't see coming that keep this book moving along nicely. The story is told in a unique fashion as well; the first part from Sue's perspective, the second from Maud's and finally the third from Sue's once again as we move along at a clip to the exciting finale.
I will admit to being somewhat irritated at the beginning of the 2nd part as it seemed like a rehash of Part 1. However, I readily admit now that it is as interesting as the first, especially as it ties in two complex story lines and provides a nice outlet for Maud's views and feelings about what is happening.
All in all, a surprising and excellent story. (4 stars)"
"Telling Tales is the second Inspector Vera Stanhope mystery by Ann Cleeves. I had read The Crow Trap a couple of years ago and enjoyed very much, then got sidetracked by her Shetland series. Everything I've read by Ann Cleeves so far, I've enjoyed very much.
Telling Tales revisits a 10-year old murder after the woman convicted of the crime kills herself in prison and after a new witness comes up clearing her of the murder. Vera Stanhope is assigned to go to the Yorkshire village of Elvet to re-open the investigation. Another murder takes place while Vera is there, begging the question if this murder is related to the previous.
The new investigation brings back old bad memories to the community of Elvet, some that they would rather forget. I liked how the story is presented. Vera is an ever-present character, along with her Sgt Ashworth, who assists with the investigation. But the story is also told from other perspectives, those of the town folk proper and this adds a nice touch.
All in all, I enjoyed this immensely and I'm glad that I've finally revisited the Vera series. (4 stars)"
"Rex Stout is another of those authors that I have come to late in my reading life. My first experience was with one of his last books, a short story collection, Death Times Three, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I've been trying to find his first book, Fer de Lance (1934) but so far with no luck. But I did find this book, The League of Frightened Men, his second book, originally published in 1935.
From being someone who enjoyed my first experience of the great detective, Nero Wolfe, I now find my self an unabashed fan. This book was excellent, a fascinating, entertaining, great mystery. Nero Wolfe and his partner, Archie Goodwin are a great team and both interesting in their own rights. Wolfe is an oversize detective, basically housebound, whose life, while he works to solve mysteries, is quite regimented. Each morning and each afternoon, he works upstairs in his home, tending his multitude of orchids. While he can be visited, no business is conducted. He settles the remainder of his day, in his office, tending to business.
Archie is his eyes, ears, arms and legs. Archie conducts the investigations, travels around New York and local environs, interviewing, gathering information. He can be Wolfe's strong arm man if necessary. The stories are told in Archie's voice, from his perspective. (Oddly enough, Wolfe does sometime leave his home, this I discovered in this story. But this seems to be a rarity, not the norm)
So this story; a group of men, Harvard classmates have a secret past. While in university, they hazed another classmate and as a result caused him to have severe injuries. Out of guilt, they have banded together to pay medical bills, etc. Now two have died, or maybe been murdered. They think that Paul Chapin is involved and that he plans to kill them all. Wolfe is hired and so the story begins.
I enjoyed so much how the story is presented; small details like how Wolfe decides how to bill each of the different members of the group, and so many other aspects. The story has a surprising menace throughout and the case is so very interesting (even when Archie and Wolfe seem to be grinding their heels trying to get information.) I love Archie's manner of presenting the case, his thoughts on Wolfe; a combination of affection and anger. Great story and now I will have to read the whole series. An excellent story and mystery. Can you figure out the ending? (5 stars!)"
I'm starting off April with the following books.
1. The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper (Classics)
2. Tender Death by Annette Meyers (Mystery - Sleuths)
3. Ratking by Michael Dibdin (Mystery - Cops)
4. The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner (12 + 4 - Science Fiction)
"Detroit Nielson king Frank DeFauw hunts down the story of a judge who may be corrupt - and is one of his best friends. Booze, drugs, womanizing and a passion for the news are all part of what makes this brilliant, erratic TV anchor a major player in this deeply troubled city. Finally, Frank decides if digging out the truth about his pal the judge is worth risking his own career, family and life."
There you go. Time to relax a bit with the missus and dogs. Have a great weekend.
Thursday, 30 March 2017
|Dad receiving French Legion of Honour|
|Chris, Rick, Dad and Honorary Consul Jean-Charles Cachon|
|My Dad, front row centre, as a young sailor|
The Iroquois was part of a number of convoys to Murmansk Russia that year. When I read the HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean, a story about a ship on the Murmansk run, it made me feel closer to my Dad and the experiences he must have had at that time. One of the convoys was used as a lure for German battleship Scharnhorst which was sunk by British forces 26 December. After D-Day, the Iroquois was assigned to carry out patrols of the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. During this time, she took part in many operations, including Kinetic, whose purpose was to eliminate German warships all along French ports. She took part in three actions including the Battle of Audierne Bay in August 1944, in which they destroyed 8 German ships. Iroquois remained in British waters until the German surrender, being involved in support of Royal Navy action off the coast of Norway.
It was part of Crown Prince Olaf's return to Norway and then sailed to Copenhagen where she was an escort to German cruisers Prince Eugen and Nurnberg until their formal surrender.
|Mom and Dad|
Back to the ceremony yesterday, CTV Northern Ontario did a very nice feature on the presentation. I hope you can see the video. If not, there was also a nice article today in the local newspaper, the North Bay Nugget. I'm sure it brought many memories to my Dad of his time in the Navy and of his crew mates.
I'm very proud of my Father and I hope he's not too embarrassed by me writing this. Love you, Dad.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
|Bonnie and Clyde having a nap... sometimes they are quiet.|
Great Historical Events
"1493. Columbus leaves Hayti for Spain, leaving behind him a colony of thirty-eight men; March 15. - He arrives in Spain and is received with every mark of gratitude; September 25. - He returns on his second voyage to the West Indies with a larger fleet consisting of seventeen ships and fifteen hundred persons; November 22. - He arrives in Hayti and finds his colony destroyed, but plants another, naming it Isabella.
1494. Columbus suppresses a conspiracy at Hayti and sends the leader to Spain. He discovers gold in large quantities; May 4. - Continuing his voyage among the West Indies he discovers Jamaica and Porto Rico; September 27. - He returns to Hayti and finds his brother Bartholomew whom he had sent to the Court of England in 1481.
1496. June 11. - Columbus learning that enemies in Spain were working his overthrow repaired to court with products of his adventure in gold from the New World, and convinced his patrons of his success and the value of his enterprise.
1497. June 24. - John and Sebastian Cabot, Italians, sent out by Henry VII and discover Labrador and Newfoundland.
1498. May. - Sebastian Cabot sets out upon his second voyage to the New World and explores the coast from the extreme to Florida.
May 30. - After a delay of nearly two years Columbus sails from Spain on his third voyage with ten ships; July 31. - He discovers Trinidad and the Orinoco; August. - He discovers the continent of South America.
1499. May 16. - Americus Vespucius, after whom America is named, sailed from Spain to explore the new world. He follows the course of Columbus."
So there you go, the last entry of the 1400's. Looking ahead, events start happening fast and furious now. The 1500's next.
Letters of Affection
The following is a letter written by John Wesley, an Anglican cleric who founded Methodism. The letter was written in his 70th year to Mrs. Eliza Bennis, Feb. 12, 1773. Her daughter gave the letter to Dr. Wm. Gray of Philadelphia as compensation for medical services. Dr. Gray willed the letter to Julius King of Cleveland, Ohio, and he presented it to Mr. Lou Burt of Detroit Michigan, who had possession of it at the time of its inclusion in this book.
"Feb. 12, 1773
My Dear Sister:
When we draw near unto God in His appointed ways He will surely draw nigh unto us. Pray remind Mr. Glasbrook of using the same means and you will find the same blessing, and when you write, encourage Mr. Slater to do at Waterford as he did at Limerick. I am glad Mr. Scott has so much courage as to receive the preachers, and still more so, that Mr. Fleury is rather a friend than an enemy. This hath God wrought!
I can observe by Mrs. Dawson's manner of writing, a very considerable change in her spirit; more acquaintance with God; more humility, and more artless, simple love. She is an amiable woman. I lover her much, and so I do all of the family that I know.
Charles Harrison does not see with my eyes or he need have gone no farther than Athlone. I wish he does not make a foolish bargain at last, one that he will repent of as long as he lives. He surely will if he does not acknowledge God in His way, but lean to his own understanding.
As long as you trust, not in yourself, but in Him that has all power in Heaven and in earth, you will find His Grace sufficient for you and His strength made perfect in your weakness. Look to Him continually and trust on Him, that you may increase with all the increase of God. I am,
My Dear Sister,
Your ever affectionate Brother,
March Book Purchases
I've just got a very short list this time. I do have a couple of books on order that have not yet arrived. I'll include them in a future list. So here we go.
"To my mind, making love is a lot like picking blackberries - you need both hands and a lot of skill to do it properly and get away unscathed, yet your mind can be miles away.
When my mind wanders, it's invariably in the direction of an antiques deal, and what could attract an antiques dealer's mind more irresistibly than a trail of clues leading to a treasure trove of Roman gold?
It might have put me off a bit had I known that following the trail would involve violence and murder, but I doubt it would have put me off for long. And when your friends are in the firing line, you have to make sure your enemies get what's coming to them..."
"Who killed Marius Steen, the theatrical tycoon with a fortune to leave to his young mistress Jacqui? And who killed Bill Sweet, the shady blackmailer with a supply of compromising photographs? Charles Paris, a middle-aged actor who subsists on booze and women, takes to detection by assuming a variety of roles, among them that of a Scotland Yard Detective-Sergeant ... and the results are both very funny and highly dramatic."
"Tarquinius, Etruscan warrior and soothsayer, Brennus the Gaul, one of the most feared gladiators in Rome. And Romulus, the boy slave, sold to gladiator school, but dreaming of vengeance for himself and for his twin sister, Fabiola.
Fabiola, sold into prostitution at thirteen, loved by the second most powerful man in the Republic, driven by hatred for the unknown father who raped her mother.
Their destiny is bound and interwoven in an odyssey which begins in a Rome riven by political corruption and violence, but ends far away, at the very border of the known world, where the tattered remnants of a once-huge Roman army - the Forgotten Legion - will fight against overwhelming odds, and the three men will meet their destiny."
"The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived alone... so she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch - and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction."
"At the Plume of Feathers in south Devon on midsummer evening, eight people are gathered together in the tap-room. They are in the habit of playing darts, but on this occasion an experiment takes the place of the usual game - a gruesomely fatal experiment which calls for investigation.
A distinguished painter, a celebrated actor, a woman graduate, a plump lady from County Clare, and a Devonshire farmer all play their parts in the unravelling of the problem."
There you go. As I said, not too many this time. Next entry might not be for a couple of days as I wind up my March reading. We'll see though. Have a great safe week!
Monday, 27 March 2017
"1447. Christopher Columbus is born at Genoa - exact date disputed
1461. He goes to sea at the age of fourteen - his first voyage on the Mediterranean
1467. At the age of twenty he visits Iceland and the Northern Seas
1470 - 74. He conceived the idea that by sailing west he would reach the East Indies - that continent must lie in that direction
1471. He applies to the Senate of Genoa and the courts of Portugal, Spain and England for aid. He is refused.
1492. April 17. - Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain grant him a commission. Isabella fitting out the expedition at her own expense; August 3. - He sails from the port of Palos with three small vessels and ninety men; August 13. - He arrives at the Canary Islands; September 6. - He left the Canaries, and, when out of sight of land his men become dejected and beg of him to return. He encourages them and restores confidence; October 1. - Not having discovered land his officers and crew threaten mutiny, but with great effort he quiets them; October 12. - Land discovered, when his men prostrate themselves at the feet of Columbus and beg his forgiveness. On landing he finds the shores lined with naked inhabitants. Columbus named this island San Salvador, and continued his voyage in search of gold; October 28 - He discovers Cuba and numerous other small islands, all of which are inhabited, and fins small quantities of gold; December 6 - Columbus sailed eastward; December 24 - One of his vessels is lost in a storm off the coast of Hayti. The natives assist him in landing and treat him with kindness..."
I'll continue with the 1400`s in my next post. More excitement from Columbus and other famous explorers.
Letters of Affection
As I've been reading through these letters from historical personalities, I have been thinking of our daily news coverage of the current President of the US and his proclivities toward Twitter usage and the thought of future generations reading them to get a perspective of our time, makes me shudder. People knew how to correspond back then, how to write letters, to put two sentences together without making one cringe. Maybe 45 would learn something by reading some of the letters and correspondence from his earlier predecessors in the Presidential office. I doubt it though. Anyway, I shouldn't rant, it wouldn't achieve anything but some minor self-satisfaction. :)
So today, I present an extract of a letter from then Gen. George Washington to Miss Nellie Custis (his step-daughter), providing some advice in selecting a husband.
"Men and women feel the same inclination towards each other now that they have always done, and which they will continue to do, until there is a new order of things; and you, as others have done, may find that the passions of your sex are easier raised than allayed. Do not, therefore, boast too soon, nor too strongly of your insensibility. * * Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contended that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its progress; but let these be withdrawn, and it may be stifled in its growth. Although we cannot avoid first impressions, we may assuredly place them under guard. * * When the fire is beginning to kindle and your heart growing warm, propound these questions to it. Who is this invader? Have I a competent knowledge of him? Is he a man of good character? A man of sense? For, be assured sensible woman can never be happy with a fool. What has been his walk of life? * * * Is his fortune sufficient to maintain me in the manner I have been accustomed to live, and as my sisters do live? And is he one to whom my friends can have no reasonable objection? If all these interrogatories can be satisfactorily answered, there will remain but one more to be asked; that, however, is an important one. Have I sufficient ground to conclude that his affections are engaged by me? Without this the heart of sensibility will struggle against a passion that is not reciprocated.
As a matter of interest, Nellie married Washington's nephew, Lawrence Lewis, in 1799. Throughout her life she regarded herself as a preserver of George Washington's legacy.
"The time is the future. The place, an America so isolated by fear (hmmmm) that it is cut off from the rest of the world by a massive defence system. Into this armed, barricaded state comes a young Russian scientist bearing a strange - and almost unbelievable story.
Superior, intelligent life - of a far higher order than any on earth - has been detected near the planet Pluto. Immune themselves by virtue of their far greater intelligence, these Aliens are about to destroy the planet Earth."
"Xenia Smith and Leslie Wetzon. "Executive search specialists." Boardroom detectives. They seek out Wall Street's top guns and steal them away from their employers. They're headhunters - and they go for the big game.
When a wealthy Fifth Avenue widow takes a walk out of her twentieth-story window, Wetzon suspects that the old lady's Russian immigrant nurse may have given her a nudge. And Peepsie Cunningham's death is just the tip of the iceberg. Soon the body count is rising faster than the Dow Jones average, as Wetzon struggles to uncover a billion-dollar scandal in the booming home health-care business - a scandal that somehow involves Wetzon's own partner... in a scam that could get two experienced headhunters killed.
Next up will be my March purchases and then my monthly summary. Have a great week!
Sunday, 26 March 2017
1170 - A Welch (as it is spelled in the book) prince, named Madoc, supposed to have discovered America.
(Next entry will cover the 1400's)
Letters of Affection
I had posted some correspondence between Napoleon and Josephine in my previous posts. This next letter was written Feb 8, 1813, from Andrew Jackson's wife to Andrew, himself.
"My Dear Husband
Your letter of 18th January from the mouth of the Cumberland River came safe to hand. It was everything to me. I rejoiced, I was happy to hear you were in health. It was my nightly prayer to the Almighty God. My thoughts are forever on thee. Where'er I go, where'er I turn, my thoughts, my fears, my doubts distress me. Then a little my hope revives again, and that keeps me alive. Were it not for that I must sink; I should die in my present situation. But my blessed Redeemer is making intercession with the Father for us to meet again, to restore you to my bosom, where every vein, every pulse beats high for your health, your safety, and your wishes crowned. Do not, my beloved husband, let the love of country, fame and honor make you forget you have one. Without you, I would think them all empty shadows.
May the Almighty God of Heaven shower down His blessings, His mercy on you, assist you in the ways of life, in the ways of righteousness, be your shield in the time of danger, support you in all things and keep you in the paths of wisdom, - the ways thereof is peace afar. Well, think on me, your dearest friend on earth.
(I believe Mrs. Jackson loved her hubby. :))
2017 Reading Group Challenges
I've progressed very nicely with my 12 + 4 Reading Group challenge. I've read all but the final 2 Alternates. I'm about to start The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner next. Since it's so early in the year, I've been going through my book lists to see what books I might pick for a follow-on 12 + 4 challenge for the 2nd half of the year. At the moment, I've got two in mind. I'll pick one or the other when I finish my last book in this challenge.
Option 1 - Continuing my Science Fiction book challenge
My current challenge features Science Fiction novels, my oldest published to one of the more current. If I decided to continue with Science Fiction books. This time I thought what I would do is make a Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror challenge, with 6 fantasies, 5 Science Fiction and 5 Horror books. These are the books I've tentatively picked if I go with this challenge. (If I go with the other, I would read these anyway in my Individual challenges.
1. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris. This is one of the Sookie Stackhouse series.
I'm leaning toward Option 2 for my next challenge. This challenge would be books published between 1900 and 1950, including 1950. As well, I vetted against how long I've had the books on my shelves. The 16 books below have been waiting my attention for a very long time.
So there you go, my two options for my next 12 + 4 challenge. Of course, I've still got to finish my first one.. Take care.