In The Wake of the Mary Celeste

This book was lent to me by a friend. Obligingly I read it and decided on giving it a review. While I love history I had no knowledge of the abandonment of the Mary Celeste one of just many sea mysteries of the nineteenth century. From the Internet, I ascertained that the vessel was found abandoned and no one knows what happened to Captain Briggs, his family and his crew.

 Sadly, there is no Foreword in this book to introduce the subject somewhat in better detail than the description on the back cover. For instance, where does Conan Doyle fit into this historical event, are any of the letters genuine or is this all totally fiction except for some details on the abandonment of the ship? A book should stand alone and historical fiction should have sufficient clarity in order to differentiate between fact and fiction. For these reasons I do not recommend this book and think a 3-star is more than generous.  

Brian Wilson

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FROM TARANTO TO TRIESTE

By Jennifer Mallinson

From Taranto To Trieste is a well-researched historical record of the second New Zealand Division’s Italian Campaign during WWII. Jennifer Mallinson, the author, is a New Zealander who has lived in Italy since the early 1970s. This book is very thorough with maps to assist the reader and many old photos taken during the war, as well as more recent photos. It follows the New Zealanders, Indians, British, Poles and other forces from Taranto in the south to Trieste in the north where the allied forces finally succeed in driving out the Germans. Italy is a beautiful country with its own European character and this comes through in many of the photos. If you are interested in history or even the picturesque scenery of Italy then you would enjoy this book.

Brian Wilson

Hostile Takeover-the socialist revolution by John Reinhart Dizon

There are many books covering recent USA political and cultural events, but few provide the comprehensive and balanced analysis given by John Reinhard Dizon in Hostile Takeover -the socialist revolution. As an MA honours graduate I know the importance of first-hand information and since 2015 (as a New Zealander) I have followed USA politics such as senate hearings, reading inspector general reports, following house and presidential debates and much more. Much of the in-depth analysis in Hostile Takeover resonates with my understanding of USA cultural and political events.

This well written 5-star book is a must-read for those who care about the future of the USA, and their own livelihoods, well-being and freedom. The future of America lies very much in the hands of Americans. There is a saying that the eyes are useless when the mind is blind; one to be remembered in keeping an open mind when reading through the chapters.

Brian Wilson

BUILDING BRIDGES by ROY and RUTH WOOD

Papua New Guinea is a land of high mountains, deep valleys, swollen rivers, jungles and isolated communities. When Roy and Ruth Woods served as missionaries here the people in the isolated areas were mostly cannibals, and the pathways to their villages were often not even tracks through the jungle. Their strong faith was central to their experiences in bringing the gospel to these communities. One can not only admire Roy and Ruth for their strong faith but also for their perseverance in what might be described as a difficult and hostile environment.

This book is a gem; inspirational for Christian believers and compelling evidence of a God for those who are not. For those interested in anthropology, in particular PNG tribal culture, it is a must-read. I enjoyed the book and in the past have enjoyed listening to Roy speak on the subject. This was a good first book by the authors but would have made for easier reading had the stories been connected and arranged chronologically. The presentation was comprised of coloured pictures, bible verses and quotes and these all add to what I can describe as a recommended read.

The Invisible Sentence by Verna McFelin

The Invisible Sentence: A fascinating memoir from the wife of a prisoner and how her family survived outside the prison wire


The victims of crime include not only those aggrieved but also the innocent families of those incarcerated. The latter are often viewed as second-rate citizens and serve not only a sentence of humiliation but also poverty and time apart from a loved one. Cleverly titled The Invisible Sentence, Verna McFelin, bravely recalls her experiences and how she came to form the organisation called Pillars. In her account, as a Christian, she shares her meaningful relationship with God, especially over this troubling period.
This is a well-written book, meticulously proofread and appropriately formatted to highlight points. It is an easy read, and in many ways inspirational. Verna has certainly been blessed.
I would recommend this book for both Christian and secular readers. It is a book that will open your eyes to injustice within our society.

Brian Wilson

TREASURE OF THE GENERAL GRANT

Treasure of the General Grant

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Treasure of the General Grant is a work of fiction in the historical fiction, contemporary mystery, and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Brian Wilson. As the title suggests, the work makes reference to the sunken clipper, the General Grant, as the central theme of its mystery, notably the large amounts of gold that were said to be on board at the time of its disaster. We meet protagonist Robbie, a native New Zealander, who is determined to find out the true origins of his deceased uncle’s connection to the ship, and if indeed there is hidden knowledge which might take him to the treasure that nobody else has been able to find.

Author Brian Wilson takes one of history’s most fascinating mysteries and turns it into a fantastic tale of adventure, mystery, and intrigue for his reading audience. One of the things I really enjoyed about this concise novel was the amount of real history which it packs in, delivering an educational background to the trade routes and sailing practices of the nineteenth century. This wealth of research makes the novel all the more engrossing and provides solid foundations for the fun, fast-paced adventures of Robbie and his discoveries to take place. The dialogue too had some really witty touches, providing colorful characterization but also some great, accessible plot exposition. Overall, I would definitely recommend Treasure of the General Grant for fans of historical mysteries and modern-day capers with some great action and real history behind it.

The Eye of the Tiger- Wilbur Smith

Eye of the tiger cover

Finally, I brought myself around to reading a Wilbur Smith novel, a style that in many ways to me resonates an Alastair Maclean.  The eye of the tiger is a fast-moving adventure thriller―sometimes predictable, but mostly gripping. It is a story that takes us on a diving expedition in search of treasure. Never too far behind are the bad guys who take no prisoners. I found it an enjoyable read but felt that by the time Wilbur Smith had reached 400 pages that he had run out of steam and the finishing fell short of a good story. Seriously, we can all recall those bad movies where the villain is squashed, packed with bullets, drowned and more, only to rise from his deathbed to attack the hero. Never-the-less, despite the ending and the writer’s taste for crudity, I can recommend this book and I am now into reading a second Wilbur Smith.

Brian Wilson

The Broker – John Grisham

cover the broker

The Broker is the first John Grisham novel I have read. As a CIA/ thriller, it is both credible and an enjoyable read. Grisham is to be commended for exposing the corruption of American politics and the sinister-type programmes engineered by the CIA and at the same time creating a unique and captivating plot. While I found the pace of the novel slow with a lot of padding the book was at times still reasonably hard to put down as the fate of Joel Backman and his adversaries are revealed.

While this book is well written and a good read, as a reader I am disappointed to find that given the promotion of Grisham books and his standing as a novelist, this novel was far from exceptional.

Brian Wilson

THE DARK CRUSADER – Alistair Maclean

 

 

dark crusader cover

The Dark Crusader, is another clever Alistair Maclean spy thriller which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Bentall, the main character, is a larger than life secret agent who is sent out on a secret mission somewhere in the Pacific. He is accompanied by a woman agent, at best described as an enigma and more a page filler. The plot is the strongest featured with its twists and turns but marred by Maclean’s attempts to be too clever with metaphor and similarly, and an apparent need for better proof reading ― not a good look for the publisher. Nevertheless this is a book well worth reading.

Brian Wilson

THE WAY TO DUSTY DEATH – Alistair Maclean

the way to cover

The Way to Dusty Death is a thriller giving testimony to Alistair Maclean’s brilliance. Johnny Harlow- the main character, is no ordinary racing driver and as suspected his mission is a race against time; ‘the way to dusty death’ being a clever play on words. The villains are those whom one would expect, but Maclean is too devious to disclose their motives until well towards the end when one is perched on the edge of one’s seat keen to turn the pages and see the world put to right. This is Maclean at his best and a well-recommended read.

Brian Wilson