February’s Reading Wrap-Up | First Half

I enjoyed the books I read in the first half of February. While I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked, I enjoyed the books I read immensely. I read one novel, one history book, and one on the craft of writing.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust by Niel Gaiman is a fantastic fantasy adventure. There is a town in England that borders a wall with a passage through it. This passage goes to a mystical land of fairies and other creatures. Tristan Thorn, a half-fairy and half-human, who pledges to his love, a human girl, that he will bring her a fallen star that they see one night. He travels through the wall and into the fairy world to find the star and bring it back to his love.

Stardust had me intrigued from the very beginning. Gaiman knows how to spin a tale. I was curious about all the creatures that Tristan met along his journey. This wasn’t a swashbuckling affair, but a more simple discovery adventure with lots of curious creatures to get to know. I was captivated the entire time reading it.

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides
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Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides is about the legendary figure of Christopher “Kit” Carson. Before there were pulp fiction stories there were blood and thunder stories. These were epic adventures of the old west centered around the famed Kit Carson.

This biography is a tale of the nineteenth century southwest of the United States. It covers the Mexican-American War along with the war against the Navajo. We ride alongside Kit Carson as he leads the charge doing recognizance of California, fighting in battles, and trying to help the Navajo by taking them to a reservation.

This book taught me many things I didn’t know about the Mexican-American War and the Navajo people. Many emotions are brought out in this book. The way people were treated, it touches on slavery, kidnapping, and rape. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I don’t know whether to cheer for Kit Carson or be saddened by him. Mixed emotions abound. But it’s history and true, so learning it was interesting.

Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces by Roy Peter Clark
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Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces by Roy Peter Clark

Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark is a book mainly targeted to non-fiction authors on a deadline. There is some overlap with fiction writers, and you may get some useful tips out of this book, but I would think it would mainly suit Web, magazine, and newspaper writers.

Help! for Writers is structured in a way where Clark presents problems, two-hundred and ten to be exact, and then shows you how to solve said problems. This is a great format and he has many tips that will help a writer to write better.

I learned a lot from this book and breezed through it fairly effortlessly. Clark has a great voice and his writing is smooth. When I had questions Clark was available via Twitter. He always responded. Based on the book alone I would have rated it four stars, but because of the personal touch Clark provides to his readers I think it earned the coveted fifth star. This is my first five-star book this year.

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