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Showing posts from January, 2009

Cannonball Read #5: Manhunt: The Twelve Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

As I have mentioned before, I have always had a certain fascination with the events surrounding the Lincoln assassination. As a child, I read anything I could get my hands on, and forced my parents to take me to Ford's Theater and the Petersen house (aka The House Where Lincoln Died). Obviously, this meant I came to James L. Swanson's Manhunt: The Twelve Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer with more information than the average reader. Unfortunately, I think this effected how much I enjoyed the book.

The book details the events preceding and following the Lincoln assassination (as well as the attempts on the lives of the Secretary of State and Vice President) and the nationwide hunt for the killer and his accomplices.

There were some parts of the historical record that I didn't know--for example the time between John Wilkes Booth's flight from Washington and his death in the Garrett barn in Virginia had not been fully explored in previous books I'd read, nor had I pre…

Cannonball Read #4: Ghosts of the Titanic by Charles Pellegrino

Ghosts of the Titanic by Charles Pellegrino is another entry into my seemingly death-and-disaster laden Cannonball Read list. I wasn't really familiar with the sinking of the Titanic (no, despite being a teenage girl when it came out, I have never seen James Cameron's Titanic). However, I do remember as a kid reading with great interest an article about the wreckage's discovery in National Geographic. (Once again: morbid, morbid child.) When I saw this book among's "recommendations" for me, I just had to have it.

This book is a combination of first-hand archaeological experience (Pellegrino has participated in numerous ventures to Titanic with a variety of groups including James Cameron--the filmmaker managed to turn his prop investigatory robot into one of the most effective wreck investigators to date) and real witness accounts (from both conversations Pellegrino held with the few remaining survivors and from source documents written at the time by …

Cannonball Read #3: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

I really really wanted to like Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job. Nearly everyone I know has told me I just MUST read Moore...he's so quirky and funny and hilarious and quirky and I will LOVE HIM!

I'm not sure what my friends think of me to try and get me to read this book.

I'm not saying the story of Charlie Asher--a neurotic recent widower and single dad who discovers he is a part of the machinery of death--is bad, or that I didn't enjoy it. I just felt like the author was...trying too hard. I guess I can relate, because--and perhaps this is why my friends thought of me when they read this--when I was writing, I had the very same problem Moore seems to have: a raft of "quirky" side characters who totally overwhelm the relatively dull main character. I liked the side characters, particularly Goth assistant clerk Lily and fellow "Death Merchant" Minty Fresh. Their descriptions were clear and vibrant. I wanted to know more about them and watch them g…

Cannonball Read #2: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

As I may have mentioned before, I spent much of my childhood as a history buff. My parents--being the sort of people who prided themselves on limiting my television consumption and seeing that I learned to read before I turned four--were happy to oblige my desire to see everything historical within reasonable driving distance. Since I grew up north-central Pennsylvania, Gettysburg was an obvious destination. It was my first battlefield, and I ran around reading every single monument, trying to take in as much as possible. My interest piqued, I went on to spend three weeks one summer at nerd camp studying the Civil War. Our class took a trip to Gettysburg, where we marched along the route of Pickett's charge, climbed through Devil's Den, and attempted to charge up Little Round Top. The feeling of interacting with such an intensely historic place was dizzying.

Which brings me to The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, a book detailing the events of the Battle of Gettysburg. I expect…