Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lord Hornblower Is a Great Adventure in the Forester Tradition

Lord Hornblower
A Book Review
By Alan Eggleston, writer and editor, business books, leisure books

C. S. Forester’s Hornblower was the first Age of Sail series I’d read, and in 2002 I bought the last two books of the 11 book series. At the time, I didn’t realize there were other authors also writing Age of Sail books, and not wanting to run out of books to read, I set these aside for some future need. I’ve since discovered Patrick O’Brien, Dudley Pope, and now Julian Stockwin. So I’ve begun the final journey with Hornblower.

Lord Hornblower is Forester’s 10th masterfully written book. In it, Horatio Hornblower, now knighted and a Lord, married to his second wife, sister to people in high places, is living the high but un-seaman-like life on land. He gets the call from Admiralty to scuttle a mutiny on board a frigate off the coast of the enemy, France, that threatens to hand the ship over to the French if every man isn’t given amnesty and the Captain court martialed for cruelty. But discipline at sea requires the men responsible be punished without mercy. 

Lord Hornblower (Hornblower Saga)Lord Hornblower (Hornblower Saga)

Only Hornblower’s ingenuity can save a ship, her crew, and England from losing face to Napoleon. Yet this is only the beginning of a tale that takes Hornblower to service on land to confront Napoleon’s Army and face eventual death by firing squad. In the meantime, his wife goes off to Austria with her brother to reunite Europe against Napoleon, leaving Hornblower to fall in love with the daughter of an old French ally. These are the waning days of Napoleon’s attempt to build an empire, and you are there to witness the effects on the countryside and its people.

This story is full of brave sea tangles, edgy land battles, daring escapes on horseback, and dear friends lost. It’s a great adventure in the Forester tradition.

(I purchased these books and was not compensated in any way for this review.)

My next read in the series: 
(Links: commission may be paid on purchase)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Victory by Stockwin Wins the Day

A Book Review
Alan Eggleston, writer and editor, business books, leisure books

Why do you read? Is it to rip through a book a day and move on to the next, or is it to lose yourself in a story with amazing characters living under incredible circumstances? For most people, I suggest, it’s the latter. And if you’re a reader like the latter, I suggest you read Victory by Julian Stockwin, his 10th novel in the rousing Thomas Kydd series.

• (Search for julian stockwin kydd sea adventures)

In Victory, Stockwin takes his two signature characters – and, thus, us – onto the decks of Britain’s most venerated flagship, the HMS Victory, to get to know her most famous leader, Lord Horatio Nelson, the Admiral who defeated Napoleon’s navy in the Battle at Trafalgar. We see him in the eyes of the nation who depended on Nelson for their survival, the men and officers who looked to him for inspiration and leadership, and the newly promoted frigate captain, Thomas Kydd, who looked to Nelson for mentorship. 

What you look to Stockwin for in his books is authentic description of battles, of the daily life at sea, of the language and attitudes of the men and officers in service, of what ships and seaports were like, of how people lived at the time and how they saw the world. In Victory, there is that aplenty and more. Right from the beginning there is a consequential battle whose description takes you in “living color” to the times of fighting sail. Then you’re transported to 19th century England and the life in Britain awaiting certain invasion by a menacing Napoleon whose massive and experienced army had already gathered across the English Channel. Finally, you’re swept to distant places with a British Navy pursuing a restless enemy desperate to be unleashed from blockade to gather strength for invasion, and once unleashed difficult to track despite their size. It culminates in the build up to and action in the Battle of Trafalgar, told from the eyes of a young Midshipman serving on Victory and Kydd whose frigate provides intelligence. You’ll live life at sea and in those times throughout this novel.

Much has been written about the Battle of Trafalgar. Much has been said about Lord Nelson. Be there, meet him, in the pages of Victory by Julian Stockwin.

For the sake of transparency, I’ll admit at the outset that I’m a big fan of Stockwin. I have been disappointed on occasion and have written about it in my reviews, but on the whole I find Stockwin gives great value for the money you pay for his novels. He has written that he spends 50 percent of the time he devotes to writing a story to research, which results in deep levels of authentic detail to his stories. He travels the world visiting the places in which his stories take place, where he runs into diaries, letters, and historical records, facts and artifacts from which appear as observations or intimate details in the stories.  In addition, Stockwin served in the British Navy, so he is knowledgeable about the history and traditions of British seamanship, which is a rich part of the detail of each novel.

Julian Stockwin publishes a monthly fan newsletter. In it he held a drawing for a free copy of the book for anyone willing to write a review. I was one of the lucky winners. Thus, I didn’t purchase the book for this review. However, if I hadn’t won I would have purchased it. 

Links to Victory: Commission may be paid for purchase.

Tweet me at Booksville or AlanEggleston

Saturday, August 07, 2010

BiAlien: You Need to Look at this New Book

Book Preview for
BiAlien by Vlane Carter

There’s a new book I think you should take a look at: BiAlien. Admittedly, I’ve only read the first chapter myself, for lack of adequate time with my other writing and editing duties. But if you’re interested in science fiction and like science fiction art, or if you have been thinking of exploring science fiction or science fiction art, this is a book you should see. You can do so easily through the author’s very imaginative website and Facebook page

The author, Vlane Carter, has tried very hard to make it a space adventure readable for every kind of audience.  Says Carter, “My novel was written for the non-science fiction, fiction and sci-fi book readers. My facebook friends who don't read sci-fi, the novel is well explained and even has a glossory of definitions at the back of it.” He also isn’t shy about trying new techniques to engage the reader, such as using the present tense rather than the typical past tense to give you a sense of watching the action in-the-now, like watching a movie. The artwork, which Carter personally art directed, is very creative and lends to the unique flavor of the storyline.  See samples on the BiAlien website, including a link to chapter 1

In addition to the book website, Carter is very active on his Facebook page. There he frequently interacts with readers discussing the book. This is a great attribute for an author. Every author ought to be accessible to his or her readers. I know that’s sometimes difficult, especially when an author’s fandom reaches into the hundreds of thousands, but Carter, from New York State, currently has just over 160 members and manages the exchanges well. He’s erstwhile about his creation, and readers can catch – and enjoy – his enthusiasm there.

Take a few minutes and browse the site and the Facebook page, and give the book a look. Let me know what you think.

Update: The author, Vlane Carter, put together a superb video showing some of the incredibly imaginative artwork from the book. Have a look.

(Not a paid or compensated endorsement.)

written by
say hello on Twitter: @booksville

A Note to Spammers

I moderate the comments on this blog for a reason, which is to avoid posting spam. This blog continues to be inundated by commenters entering Chinese text accompanied by long sets of periods, each period with its own link to various kinds of spammy links. Presumably they link to illicit sites for sex or phishing expeditions or identity theft or viruses. I don't post those or any similar comments -- ever! Try as you might, I read the comments and if I suspect foul play -- spam -- I delete the comment and report it as spam. So, you might as well save yourself some time and effort, because your entry will never make it onto my pages.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Twain Autobiography Re-released Unedited for Brand

Mark Twain Autobiography Re-releases November 15 

Did you read the article in this weekend's New York Times about the new Autobiography of Mark Twain? It's worth your reading (available online) if you haven't.

Twain (Samuel Clements) recorded the material in 1910, then had it heavily edited to protect his image at the time. He hoped that in time it could be re-released in its original form to show the real Twain, in an era when he could be viewed as himself without degrading his brand or his family. Today is that time.

Twain fans and history mavens should be delighted. This is as close as we will be so long after Twain's passing to get to know the real Mark Twain and his times.

Alan Eggleston
Writer and editor, business bookseller, leisure bookseller
Follow me on Twitter: @booksville or @a_copywriter

Friday, July 09, 2010

"Sex Dungeon for Sale!" Rates a Movie

Patrick Wensink's "Sex Dungeon for Sale!" Is Now a Film
By Alan Eggleston, writer and editor, business bookseller, leisure bookseller

Back in November, I wrote a review of Patrick Wensink's new book, "Sex Dungeon for Sale!" Seems this well received humor title has also attracted the attention of some filmmakers. Says Patrick, "I thought you would also get a kick out of this. Some filmmakers took the title story of my book and made a hilarious film." Courtesy of the author, here's "Sex Dungeon for Sale!" Let us know what you think.

Follow me on Twitter: @booksville

First million e-book author

According to his publisher, U.S. thriller writer James Patterson is the first novelist to sell more than one million electronic books (e-books). His titles have frequently shown up on Amazon's bestseller list in the Kindle store. More and more readers are investing in e-book technology, including iPads, Kindles, and Nooks. See the full Yahoo News article.

Follow me on Twitter: @booksville
Examples of popular Patterson e-books
(commission paid on purchase)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Author Christoper Moore News II

Author Christopher Moore Returns to the Stage
By Alan Eggleston, writer and editor, business book seller, leisure book seller

In an e-mail to fans, humorist author Christopher Moore announced Wednesday, June 29, that he would be returning to the stage to do another live reading. 

Said Moore, "By popular demand, I'm doing another dramatic reading of Fool with my commentary in San Francisco on July 24th.

"I’ll be on stage at the Brava Theater in San Francisco with a group of actors from the American Conservatory Theater, there will be readings from Fool, King Lear, I’ll tell stories and lies, take questions, and sign books.

"All proceeds benefit LitQuake, San Francisco." (LitQuake is San Francisco's literary festival.)

Tickets through

Moore closed with this encouraging suggestion:
"There are no shows planned for other cities right now, so please to write to ask. I could happen, but I have a book to finish."

Not a paid endorsement, not a paid review.

Are you a Christopher Moore fan? What's your favorite Moore book? Follow me on Twitter: @Booksville


Prepare by reading Fool, if you haven't already
(commission may be paid for purchase)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saying No to Mildew

Mildew: remove it before it spreads
by Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, bookseller

If you clean out the garage or basement and run into forgotten books, look them over for mildew and other forms of fungi. Fungi like warm, moist climates and will continue to grow unless removed. And if you move contaminated books in with clean books, the fungi won't hesitate to move to the new food source (books = paper = organic matter = food) and multiply there under the right conditions.

According to, you can battle mildew in a couple of different ways. One is to remove the books from the environment -- a cool, dry place is best. Books like a humidity level of 60% or less best. If the room is warm, turn on an air conditioner. If it's damp, turn on a dehumidifier. Another is to apply a dry cleaning pad to the affected area. If the mildew is just beginning, you can also try using a hair blower set on low.

Follow me on Twitter: @BizBooksPlus @AlanEggleston @a_copywriter

Monday, April 05, 2010

Neil Gamon Announces House on the Rock American Gods Weekend

Neil Gamon's American Gods to Return to House on the Rock?
By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, bookseller

Neil Gamon, award-winning author of the immensely popular Coraline book (and movie) and The Graveyard Book just announced via Twitter (@Neilhimself) a House on the Rock American Gods Halloween weekend.

Gamon featured House on the Rock as the setting for his 2001 novel, American Gods. You can read more about the October 29 and 30 event and a little bit of the background on the House of the Rock blog. This sounds like a wonderful event if you liked the book and you like his works.

I visited House on the Rock many times as a college student, when my parents moved to Madison, Wisconsin. I actually attended Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, then spent holidays and summers in Madison. My parents lived in Madison until about 1985, and we would go to the House on the Rock near Dodgeville, Wisconsin, as it grew in size and complexity every year. The House on the Rock is a modern architectural splendor that sits atop a rock pillar, but it is but a small part of what became a much larger collection of wonderful artifacts of invention and art, including pneumatically driven instruments, a large room filled with doll houses, a gigantic clock and the world's largest carousel. Last I knew, it was a county park property that people could pay to go inside and tour -- and well worth the price of admission.

With reference to the statement that the House on the Rock was a county park property.  The House on the Rock was built and operated by Alex Jordan until he sold it in December, 1988 to Arthur T. Donaldson, a Janesville, WI businessman and friend of Alex.  It has always been under private ownership.

We are looking forward to Neil Gamon's return to the House on the Rock!
-A. Donaldson, June 22, 2010-

Review Disclosures: Commission may be paid on purchase from book links only.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Beverage for All Seasons

A Glass of Wine, a Good Book, and Thee...
By Alan Eggleston, bookseller and wine seller?

We are quickly moving from the hot tea, coffee, or cocoa and a good book season into the iced tea, coffee, or soft drink season. The combination that bridges all seasons is a good book and a savory glass of wine. After a long day at the office or behind the counter, nothing relaxes like a well chosen glass of wine, and nothing takes us away from the cares of the world like an adventure into the other world of the book.

Some Suggestions
Set back on your lounger with your romance novel and a glass of Rose and a chocolate.

Cava Rose Duo with Godiva 8-piece Chocolates - Wine Collection Gift

Follow the clues in your mystery novel with a variety of snacks and a delicious Pinto Gris from Oregon.

Harry & David Party Pack - Gourmet Gift Basket

All these available from with great deals on wines. (Commissions may be paid on purchases.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to the Basics of Faith

Book Review: The Year of Living Like Jesus
By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

My usual Lent is spent trying to avoid something: chocolate, fattening foods, or something else that I like but that isn't good for me. I usually fail, and early into Lent I give up. Often, Lent is disappointing because I set myself up from the beginning to fail. This year, rather than take something away that I'm destined to give in to, I decided to give myself into something from the beginning: reading something that might enrich me spiritually.

I stumbled into The Year of Living Like Jesus by Ed Dobson on the new books table as I walked into Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, MI. The idea of living like Jesus intrigued me, and I wondered how a pastor of an evangelical wing of a traditionalist Protestant church would approach the subject. I am Roman Catholic, so I was wary of buying a book that might easily spend more time exploring the ills of Catholicism than how Jesus lived, but that's not the way Dobson approached the topic. He really explores Jesus' life and times, and he explores it through the practices of various other faiths including Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church, and Judaism. I found I actually had much in common with Dobson that I didn't expect to, and I learned a lot about Jesus, his own faith, and the times he lived through, as well as other faiths and peoples. This is a deeply personal journey made more resonate because of his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). 

This book isn't at all preachy, for anyone who might shy away from such a read for that concern. It is an exploration of a man's personal faith through exploring the roots of Christianity. It is full of interesting insights. It is written by a man of amazing wisdom and observation, who isn't afraid to buck convention. 

The one fault I found with the book is that the chapter on July is very short. He didn't spend much time exploring the topic that month and I felt a little jilted. Otherwise, I felt The Year of Living Like Jesus was a valued read. I hope to reread it next year, but to read it over a year, month by month, trying to prolong the sense of his experience by spending more time thinking about what he went through instead of speeding through it for one Lenten season.

Find me on Twitter: @BizBooksPlus @AlanEggleston @a_copywriter

Review Disclosure. No compensation received for reviewing this book or author. Link to book above through my online bookstore: commission may be paid for purchase.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I Support Google Fiber for Grand Rapids

I support Google Fiber for Grand Rapids, a movement to encourage technology leader Google to build their incredibly fast test fiber optic broadband network in Grand Rapids. If you haven't already joined the Google Fiber for Grand Rapids Facebook Fan page, please do so today. And please go to the  Google Fiber page to nominate Grand Rapids for this program.

Google already has offices in Ann Arbor, so it would make sense to expand their reach into Michigan by coming to Grand Rapids for this test. They are also working with Grand Rapids independent book store Schuler Books printing books-on-demand with their Espresso Book Machine at the 28th street store from Google's vast repertoire of Google Books, so they have connections here.

Furthermore, Grand Rapids' medical, art, technology, university, and other data-heavy industries makes it an ideal candidate for Google Fiber. What they need is our encouragement and examples of why we'd make suitable partners. 

And follow Google Fiber for Grand Rapids on Twitter: @GoogleFiber4GR

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cesar’s Way Becomes My Way

Book Review: Cesar’s Way
By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

In the summer of 2008, we bought a Scottish terrier from a breeder in the Thumb area of Michigan and brought her home to West Michigan. For the 32 years my wife and I had been married, we had always owned Scottish terriers and they had always proved to be a loving, quiet, loyal family pets. They were always standard black Scotty, but calm. This year, our 22 year old daughter wanted something different, but we weren’t ready to give up on Scotties. The compromise was a different colored Scotty -- wheaten.

McKenzie as a pup.

We were told that McKenzie was the calmest, most endearing of all the litter. Wheaten Scotties are hard to find and we’d gone as far away as Kansas to order one, but the litter failed. Suddenly we found this litter and it was practically in our back yard. And the one puppy not spoken for was the calmest. We brought her home and what developed was a puppy with an attitude. She not only liked to play, it was all she wanted to do. She was always full of pep and energy and she continually nipped at us. Furthermore, nothing on the ground was safe from her, especially tissue paper, including tissue wrapping paper. And nothing discouraged her. She crawled all over us when we kept her with us on the sofa and she wouldn’t settle down. Outside, she barked at everything that moved. When we went somewhere, she barked incessantly. In the mud room where we kept her kennel, she chewed on the woodwork. Paper training was out of the question because it never remained in one piece. 

Then one day I noticed a program on the National Geographic Channel called The Dog Whisperer. At first I was just fascinated, but then I realized the host, Cesar Millan, worked with dogs who often had similar problems to our McKenzie’s. They were never all the same problems, so it took a long time to watch enough programs to knit all the pieces together, but over time I’ve seen close to a complete picture.

Cesar Millan has a website where he also deals with dog “issues” and where you can get help, including books and DVDs. And one day while browsing my favorite book store, I also found three of his books. One of them is Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier. I’ve been reading it and trying to apply it to our McKenzie. It’s helped a lot, although McKenzie is still a work in progress. 

What I really appreciate about Cesar’s Way is that Millan explains everything about dogs, their habits, and their way of looking at the world. Then he turns that into solutions for the issues that dogs develop because of the way humans overindulge their pets. It’s about problems and their solutions. And it explains many things you see on The Dog Whisperer but don’t often get expressed. For instance, on the show Millan sometimes puts a doggie saddle on a dog when they go on walks, but he didn’t always explain why it’s effective on the dog. In the book, he explains that the dog looks at carrying a saddle as doing a job and it accepts the psychology of going on a walk more easily by wearing one (it isn’t always necessary, because going on a walk is a job in itself).

Cesar’s Way contains helpful recommendations along with their sound reasoning. It also contains examples stories of real people and their dogs that show how his theories and solutions apply. And it contains diagrams and pictures showing how to do certain things. 

I’m glad I ran into The Dog Whisperer and I’m glad I ran into Cesar’s Way. I hope I’ll be able to find solutions to McKenzie's "attitude" by applying all I’m learning from both. If you have a dog with “issues” I’d highly recommend both. Also available: Cesar’s Way Deck 50 Tips for Training and Understanding Your Dog (like flashcards or index cards for quick reference.)

(Note: I just discovered I had written this some time ago and forgotten to post it. I have since bought two more Cesar Millan books that I will review in the future. This guy is amazing. If you have cable TV or satellite TV and access to the National Geographic Channel, watch The Dog Whisperer and see the amazing work he does with dogs and their owners.)

Review Disclosure. No compensation received for reviewing this book, program, or channel. Commissions may be paid for purchases made from book links made through I bought the book I reviewed. Books also available on Cesar Millan's website.

Follow me on Twitter: @Booksville.

Monday, January 11, 2010

When Will There Be Good News? in Paperback Week of January 11

Book Review: Kate Atkinson's Third Jackson Brodie Novel
By Kate Eggleston, avid reader

Coming soon to a comfy chair near you? The third in a series of highly acclaimed novels featuring private investigator Jackson Brodie, When Will There Be good News?, by Kate Atkinson, is available at book stores this week. 

This was my first reading of a Kate Atkinson novel. It follows her two national bestsellers, Case Histories and One Good Turn. Unfortunately, I wonder if it will follow popular suit when it hits the bookshelves.

Available January 11 in trade paper (larger paperback), When Will There Be Good News? begins with a scene that shocks and takes your breath away with its violence, yet loses steam as it takes its sweet time picking up momentum afterward. If you are patient, you are rewarded with a more satisfying second half, wherein the pace picks up with a more suspenseful read and a surprising end.

I wish this were a better crafted novel, because then I would be tempted to read Atkinson's other two Jackson Brodie novels. However, it took an honest effort to work my way through this book, with its over development of a minor character (Reggie) at the expense of more important characters, and its frequently distracting parenthetical comments. 

I am a big fan of mysteries and thrillers. I was really looking forward to picking up this book, but not finally setting it down. I hope you find it more satisfying.

Review disclosures: Free copy of the book was furnished by the publisher for review before publishing date. No recompense for review. Book links above through our bookstore, for which we may receive commissions for sales.

Follow us on Twitter: @BizBooksPlus

Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcome Kate Eggleston to Our Book Reviews

Book Reviews: Meet My Book Mate 
By Alan Eggleston

As a writer, I'd rather spend my writing time earning an income. As a reader, I'd rather spend it writing book reviews. Unfortunately, the former wins out and I don't get much time to read or review. However, my wife Kate is able to fit in far more books into her schedule than I. So, why not let you benefit from her voracious reading habit.

Thus, I introduce you to Kate Eggleston, avid reader. It's taken me a while to talk her into penning her impressions of the books she reads, but I hope she will do more of it. She's smart, creative, and she reads a lot of different kinds of books. Mysteries, histories, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, romance, biographies, and on and on.

With that, I invite her to take it away. Her first review will be a mystery. Enjoy!

Kate doesn't Twitter yet, but maybe if you invite her here, she will!

Review Disclosures