The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Horace Greeley's "Go west, young man" takes on a new meaning in James Bradley's eye-opening book. The history, narrated by the author, occurs between the years 1850 and 1908. According to Mr. Bradley, it's a time dominated by White Christian Aryans, who looked west to follow the sun and civilize any race or country in their path. How much of this book is gospel and how much is conjecture is unknown to me. I do know that at times I thought I was reading America's version of William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I do remember the history related in this book, but not with Mr. Bradley's white supremacy slant.

The book is about a large diplomatic mission sent across the Pacific Ocean in 1905 with the secret mission of an unconstitutional pact with Japan. The American delegation was led by future president and current Secretary of War, William Howard Taft. Among the many dignitaries aboard the ship Manchuria was Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. She was known as America's Princess, and in today's world, she would be what you would call a "rock star". This ship also stopped in Hawaii, the Philippines, China and Korea, supposedly to check on the progress of the "barbaric" territories and countries.

The book is primarily about the prevailing attitude of President Roosevelt, most of the politicians, and Ivy League Professors, who thought that only white men were capable of civilizing the world. A lot of the book is about the brutal and unfair take over of Hawaii and the Philippines by a very aggressive White Christian Aryan America. Remember, this is all according to James Bradley. Also very interesting is how America and England got China hooked on opium. The famous Queen Victoria of England actually became the largest drug dealer in history! The book also highlights America's horrendous treatment of Chinese immigrants on the west coast of America, which ultimately caused a boycott of America in China.

As a sidebar to the story, I thought the way Mr. Bradley portrayed Teddy Roosevelt was unique. Everybody visualizes President Roosevelt as a very manly "Rough Rider". The author characterizes the President as somewhat sickly, slightly effeminate and conniving. He goes into detail about how the President staged all his manly pictures. He also portrays the President as a treaty breaker, giving Korea to Japan, our "honorary" Aryan country, to civilize Asia. Most history books leave a lot of this book's theories out, so it's up to the reader to decide on who is right or wrong.

A lot of reviewers gave this book a poor rating. I believe it's because they don't agree with Bradley's seemingly Un-American slant on this subject. To some extent I agree, but I also think it was an enjoyable and well researched literary work supported by 51 pages of notes. I highly recommend this book to all those history buffs out there.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: James Bradley is the son of John Bradley, one of the men who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi , Iwo Jima during World War II. James's book Flags of Our Fathers was made into a great movie directed by Clint Eastwood. I think that in all of his writings, James Bradley tells it the way he sees it, whether its popular or not.

Monday, December 12, 2011


This is not a classic story like the The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago, but it's not Walt Disney's Dumbo either. This is a interesting novel about two elephants and their keeper journeying through England during the late seventeen hundreds. It's written by Christopher Nicholson, an award winning documentary producer for the BBC in England. You can feel his love for animals throughout the novel. The story is well formulated and uses the language and spelling of the times.

The novel starts out with a ship arriving in Bristol, England from the East Indies with various cargo, including exotic animals. Two of the crates contain two very sick elephants. They are purchased by a sugar merchant, John Harrington, for his estate, and are turned over to a young horse groomer, Tom Page, for the elephant's care and training. This turns out to be the start of decades of love between the trainer and the animals. Eventually the male elephant, Timothy, gets sold to another estate because of aggressive behavior. In the ensuing years Tom tries to find out what happened to Timothy, and when he finds out, it's not pretty.

The bulk of the book is spent on the life and trials of the keeper and his female elephant, Jenny. The communication between the two in the book is quoted conversation, but it's implied to be mental telepathy. It's really well done and has the reader believing that Tom and Jenny are really talking to each other. How much could we learn if this was possible? Jenny is bought and sold many times, including time spent at a menagerie, which is a humbling experience for both the keeper and animal. The book's ending is a little vague, but satisfying versus what I thought it would be.

This is a quality novel, and I highly recommend it to all the animal lovers out there. The book makes the reader wonder why man treats a magnificent animal like a elephant so dreadfully. Every so often you have to read a story like this to make you once again aware of animal conservation.   

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: Christopher Nicholson has been involved with natural history all his life and has produced many BBC programs relating to the relationship between humans and animals. His previous novel was The Fattest Man In America, which is about a 1,000 pound man in Texas who decides to market himself as a tourist attraction.What??

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This novel is either part of John Varley's Eight Worlds stories or the second book of another wonderful trilogy. Varley is always unclear as to whether his novels fit into similar or slightly different universes. He continues to come up with characters that are familiar to movie goers. This time he submits a supposedly invisible character named Elwood P. Dowd, which happens to be the name of the delusional character that James Stewart portrays in the 1950 movie Harvey.

This novel tells the story of Sparky (Kenneth) Valentine, who is on the lam from the authorities in Luna for the murder of his father. He is also pursued by Isambard Comfort, a member of the mafia on Pluto's moon, Charon. This tale takes 70 years before it culminates in a trial on Luna by the recently mentally challenged Central Computer. Remember what happened to this computer at the end of Steel Beach? Also do you remember Hildy Johnson? Well, she's Back!

Since Sparky and his father are Shakespeare actors, the novel has the flavor of Dan Simmons's novels Ilium and Olympos, which relied heavily on Shakespeare's and Homer's works. I think this kind of writing is very difficult to research and to intertwine into a novel. Well done, John Varley. This novel is different in that there isn't a female narrator or heroine. Instead we have a male narrator, although I wouldn't consider him a hero. In the early parts of the book, Sparky is supplementing his acting monies by running "cons". This gets him into trouble with the Charonese mafia, and a chase ensues from Pluto to the Moon, while Sparky seeks the lead role of King Lear in a play by a old friend Polly. They starred together when Sparky had a children's hit T.V. show called "Sparky and His Gang".

The characters in this book are delightful and refreshing, including Sparky's ultra smart dog Toby. I love the way Varley brings back old characters in his books. This is easy since medical accomplishments have cured all physical problems except heavy brain damage. It's not uncommon to live 200-300 years in the Eight Worlds books. Since I'm a fan of Varley books, I give this book my highest recommendation.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: John Varley's next novel comes out in October 2012. The title will be either Slow Apocalypse or One Minute To Midnight. It's a story about a invented bacterium used to turn crude oil spills into a gooey mess. The problem is that it gets loose and destroys the World's oil supply! Sounds exciting; I can't wait.