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SheriC

Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Cypress House
Michael Koryta
The Outsider
Stephen King
Progress: 34 %
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
The Return of the King
J.R.R. Tolkien, Rob Inglis
Progress: 13 %

Wolfie the Bunny ★★★☆☆

Wolfie the Bunny - Ame Dyckman

Dot’s pretty salty about the new interloper in the family, but in  the end discovers something common to most big sisters: He might be a wolf in bunny clothing, but he’s still YOUR wolf in bunny clothing. Loved Dot’s sass, and her voice was fun to read aloud. Not a huge fan of the illustrations, though.

 

Hardcover, borrowed from my public library

Horrible Bear ★★☆☆☆

Horrible Bear! - Ame Dyckman, Zachariah OHora

I don’t know if my library copy was missing some pages or if the author is trying to introduce preschoolers to non-linear storytelling, but I found this disjointed and hard to follow. Plus, I didn’t like the blobbly scribbly illustrations.

 

Hardcover, borrowed from my public library

Boy + Bot ★★★★☆

Boy and Bot - Ame Dyckman, Dan Yaccarino

Boy and Robot find common ground and friendship. Cute story, love the illustrations. I especially liked the juxtaposition of Robot power switch : Boy sleep time and how they tried to take care of each other.

 

eBook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive

Tea Party Rules ★★★★☆

Tea Party Rules - Ame Dyckman, K.G. Campbell

Cub will put up with almost anything to eat cookies, but he can’t suppress his essential bear nature forever. I’m not sure what the moral is here, or if there is one, but poor little Cub is so relatable, and the illustrations are great.

 

Hardcover, borrowed from my public library

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo★★★★☆

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

I might have paid more attention if my Texas History lessons had been more like this book. But then, I suppose such a candid examination of the characters and motivations of the real people who created our history would not have been considered suitable subject matter for junior high school students.

 

Despite its subtitle (The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo), Duel of Eagles is really about the Texas revolution, covering a period of history from Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 to Santa Anna’s death in 1876. It could be considered a revisionist history, using original sources that proponents of a heroic Texas origin story may disregard or consider unreliable. Some critics of the book claim the author is pro-Mexican, but it seems to me that he is simply giving equal weight to Mexican sources and doesn’t hesitate to skewer the characters and actions of Mexicans and Tejanos as much as the Anglo-Americans. He notes where there are conflicting accounts of events and provides the reader with 71 pages of footnotes and bibliography to document his sources.

 

Altogether, it’s an entertaining and horrifying account of the Texas journey from Mexican province to independent republic to annexation into the United States, blowing up myths of heroic deeds and high-minded Texians seeking freedom from oppression along the way. At some point, it got a little wearisome, because, yes, we get it, this was really just a combination of speculative land-grabbing by non-residents and a push to preserve the slave state and part of the precursor to Manifest Destiny, but I started to feel as though we were beating a dead horse by the time Santa Anna surrendered at San Jacinto.

 

Hardcover, received as a gift from my father in 1994, who was an amateur Texas history buff. And a little surprising that he gifted it to me, as the views of the author don’t seem to fit his. How I wish I had actually read this when he was living, so I could have asked him about it. But history and the Wild West mythos didn’t interest me then, and I forgot I even had this until he passed away in January. Now it’s too late, and I can only read his books and remember him.

 

Previous Updates:

2/11/18 – page 11/431

 

6/3/18 – page 52/431

 

6/5/18 – page 63/431

 

6/9/18 – page 93/431

 

6/9/18 – page 109/431

 

6/11/18 – page 129/431

 

6/12/18 – page 151/431

 

6/12/18 – page 202/431

 

6/15/18 – page 259/431

 

6/16/18 – page 267/431

 

 

 

The Outsider - 34%

The Outsider - Stephen King

AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH

 

He did it again. Sometimes I really hate Stephen King as much as I love him. 

Duel of Eagles - page 267/431

The fate of the Mexican Army's wounded soldiers after the battle at the Alamo from Colonel José Enrique de la Peña:

 

“In fact, the plight of our wounded was quite grievous,” de la Peña bitterly declared, “and one could hardly enter the places erroneously called hospitals without trembling with horror. The wailing of the wounded and their just complaints penetrated the innermost recesses of the heart; there was no one to extract a bullet, no one to perform an amputation, and many unfortunates died whom medical science could have saved. General Santa Anna doubtless thought that he could alleviate the sufferings of his victims by appearing frequently among them, smiling at those miserable men who scarcely had the energy to see him, offering them their full pay with one hand but ordering it not to be disbursed with the other. There were many fools who were encouraged by his words, but to mislead them was an insult to their misfortune.”

 

Adding to this insult, Santa Anna refused to donate any of his linens to be used as bandages for the wounded and “grew angry when asked for so much as a single peso”.

 

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long 

 

 

End of Watch - Finished!

End of Watch: A Novel - Stephen King, Simon & Schuster Audio, Will Patton

Maybe even better this time than it was on the first reading. Now I can take The Outsider off pause, and start from the beginning. 

 

Original review here. I was re-reading the Bill Hodges trilogy before I go on with The Outsider, since there is supposed to be at least one character making a reappearance. 

Duel of Eagles - page 259/431

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

Later, Americans would claim that there was no surrender, that Crockett went down like Hercules, clubbing Mexican soldiers into a bony mash at his feet with the shattered stump of Old Betsy. They would dress him up like Natty Bumpo in buckskins and a raccoon cap, put oaths on his lips and a dripping Bowie knife in his hands. They would name steamboats, railroad trains, frontier towns, and a marching song after him. They would anoint this day, March 6, 1836, the inaugural moment of Manifest Destiny. 

 

As it was, in the end, shortly after six o'clock in the morning, David Crockett made a choice. The Go Ahead man quit. He did more than quit. He lied. He dodged. He denied his role in the fighting. 

Help! Need eBook management suggestions

In downloading a free ebook, I made an unpleasant discovery about iTunes. Apparently, Apple has decided that we don't need iTunes to manage our epub book libraries anymore, and the only way to get non-iTunes purchased books onto my ipad is to manually transfer the book file. 

 

Which is fine. I rarely read ebooks, and when I do, they're usually on my Kindle or Overdrive/Libby apps. But I do have a small collection of epubs that I've downloaded as freebies or from Gutenberg and now I have no way to easily view and organize them. 

 

So, any suggestions? A quick Google-search seems to indicate Calibre is a good system for managing my epubs, and free, too. Have any of you used it? Liked it? Hated it? Have other preferred systems? 

 

EDIT: I don't use a dedicated e-reader, so I always read ebooks on my ipad mini using Kindle, Libby, or iBooks apps. I've always used the iBook app for the epubs. 

Finders Keepers - Finished!

Finders Keepers: A Novel - Stephen King

Still loved this one, too. On to End of Watch!

 

Original review here. I'm re-reading the Bill Hodges trilogy before I go on with The Outsider, since there is supposed to be at least one character making a reappearance. 

Duel of Eagles - page 202/431

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

Like Travis, Fannin’s desire to lead outstripped his abilities. He was baldly ambitious and, at least to all appearances, had come to Texas to make huge profits. In civilian life he had traded in slaves, but even the slave-owning farmers in Texas seemed to find his practice of bringing over Africans unsavory. His position as commander at Goliad struck them as profiteering also. He mastered human beings for money. Now there were ugly rumors among the troops that he mastered human beings for his private ascension as well. Southerners understood slavery. Not one would knowingly brook being any man’s slave, not even for the glory of Texas.

In letter after letter, Fannin asked to be relieved of command. All he wanted now was to go home to his wife and children. To his credit, however, the star-crossed colonel was resolved to make his stand at Goliad… at least until the council furloughed him.

 

He had attempted to bring men and supplies from Goliad to the besieged at the Alamo, but they were already so short of supplies and in such bad shape that they were forced to turn back.

Finders Keepers - 70%

Finders Keepers: A Novel - Stephen King

Holly goes to the telephone, reaches for it, then pulls her hand back. For almost a minute, she just stands there, gnawing her lips. She’s not used to taking the initiative in things. Maybe she should call Bill first, and ask him if it’s okay? “Bill doesn’t think the notebook’s important, though,” she tells her living room. “I think different. And I can think different if I want to.”

 

Woohoo! Go, Holly, git em!

Duel of Eagles - page 151/431

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

I knew the Mexican army was affected by their long journey north to San Antonio, but the description here is one of pure misery. The vast majority of the troops were forcibly conscripted from wherever bodies could be found, including prisoners, Indians, and anyone unlucky enough to be caught as the army traveled north. 

 

The farther north they reached, the more Santa Anna's blitzkriegers looked like refugees. Their shoes and sandals gave out. Their shirts rotted, leaving them to wear their uniform jackets against their skin. And they hungered.

Food was provided to soldiers below the rank of first sergeant, but only half rations: One pound of meat and some beans or corn per day. For the final thirty days before reaching San Antonio, soldiers ate only eight ounces of toasted corn cake daily. 

 

There was little in the way of medical care. Only one self-styled “physician” and no medicine or medical supplies.

 

Once hostilities actually began with the Anglo-Americans in Texas, the absence of physicians became especially desperate. Scores of wounded men died for simple lack of care. And as they approached death and cried for spiritual consolation, one more failing appeared. In the whole Catholic army, there was not a single priest.

 

These conscripted troops were not exactly armed, either. Some were given no weapons at all, but those who were weren’t much better off. The Mexican army used discarded British “Brown Bess” muskets, which required 18 steps to load and another 4 steps to fire.

 

American minister Waddy Thompson observed, “There is not one in ten of these soldiers who has ever seen a gun, nor one in a hundred who has ever fired one before he was brought into the barracks… Their powder, too, is equally bad… not one cannon ball in a thousand reached the enemy – they generally fell about half-way between the opposing armies.” He did not exaggerate.

 

Duel of Eagles - page 129/431

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

Thinking he could breast his way through the conflict, Travis told the mercenaries that if they were dissatisfied with his command they could elect one of their own. The mercenaries promptly named Colonel Bowie to lead them.

...

For his part, Bowie threw a wild party, turning San Antonio into an animal house for the next several days. It was a disgraceful, stumble-drunk orgy of power and corn liquor.

Mr. Mercedes - Finished!

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King

Yep, I enjoyed it the second time around. On to Finders Keepers!

 

Original review here. I'm re-reading the Bill Hodges trilogy before I go on with The Outsider, since there is supposed to be at least one character making a reappearance.