About sokorra

A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

Content Question

Featured

I am curious as to what posts everyone has been liking out of what I have been posting lately. As I plan the July content (I’m trying to get back to May’s 3 day a week posting), I would like to take into consideration what my readers think.

Book-it Review: Isabella: Braveheart of France

Title: Isabella: Braveheart of France
Author: Colin Falconer
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 (Kindle Unlimited Edition) (Famous Women series)
My Grade: C

It’s hard to write this review because it almost seems like I can’t put into words what I found wrong about this book.  The general story is good, but then its a story brought from real life.  The things wrong are found in other elements.

This story feels self Published in that it seems unedited.  The tenses shift, and the phrasing doesn’t flow well.  At first I thought perhaps it was written for a younger audience, but some of the language disagrees with that theory.

It also turns Roger Mortimer into a pedophile, openly desiring Isabella since she was 12 years old.  Edward the II sounds like a madman, and whether he was or not we really don’t get to know him at all except as Isabella points out the awkward moments in their relationship. Piers Gaveston has a large role but still we know nothing really about him except he was pretty, and Edward liked him a lot.  In fact there isn’t a lot of character development at all.  Isabella is the most developed, as one would hope from the sole POV character, but considering how big a role some of these characters play, I would have expected to know more about them.

It also has some time jumps, as the novel is less than 300 pages and it covers 17 years of her life.  It doesn’t even really cover her years as Queen Regent, ending with Edward’s death.

Still, I have read much worse, and it seems for the most part not to take too many literary licence with the history, though I am not knowledgeable enough to really take on that element of it.  I give it a C, because It didn’t make me want to throw it out the window, but it didn’t enthrall me either.  Perhaps, if given a proper editor, it could improved upon.

Bookit-Review: Vision of the Future

Title: Vision of the Future
Author: Timothy Zahn
Publication Date:  September 1, 1999  (Paperback) Book 2 of the Hand of Thrawn Duology
My Grade:  B

So this is the final book in the five Thrawn books made by Timothy Zahn.  The first three being his Thrawn Trilogy, and the second two being the Hand of Thrawn Duology which began with Specter of the Past.

Zahn is really good at building us a universe to play in.  It’s interesting to see in the Duology how his main characters have changed in the decade between then and now.  Mara has become more comfortable with herself, and with the idea of the Jedi.  Luke also has changed, become more mature and is in the process of evaluating how he uses the force in his day-to-day life.  Leia and Han just want a peaceful vacation with their three kids where no one tries to kidnap, kill or anything else to them.  However, when push comes to shove they are going to help out.

Han in this book is a little less the rascal we all love in the movies.  It is after all almost 20 years post the Battle of Yavin, so I suppose that all that time spent with the Rebellion, The New Republic and of course being a father to three Jedi children might chill you out a bit.  There is plenty of Lando as well, as he teams up with Han to find the Caamas Document.

Leia meanwhile is teaming up with various subcharacters in the political world trying to find peace for the New Republic, both internally and externally.

I think one of my favorite things is the delving into the background of Talon Karrde, as well as seeing what Pelleaon is up to now as the Supreme Commander of the Empire’s naval forces.  He’s trying to save the Empire but is not having an easy time of it because of the reappearance of “Thrawn.”

If you like books that deal with political intrigue, character backgrounds and action you will enjoy this book.  It has a good mix of the three.  It deals with the theme of how things can appear one way but turn out not to be that way at all, it depends on your point of view (as Obi-wan once told us) and who got to write the history down.

It also sets up the next stage of the Star Wars Legends books, which is interesting but I won’t be delving into myself.  At least not right now.

I really liked the fact that Luke and Mara had basically a road-trip like plot arc (well, it was more like a hike, but the same concept).  They ended up forced to face some issues between them that had developed over the last ten years, and eventually realise they love each other.  It’s a bit sappy in its almost instantious realization, and I feel it might have been better if he had started to develop them going down that road in the first book, but there is plenty going on that needed developed.

My only problem is wondering why after the kids are sent away to hang out with Chewie and his family, no one really mentions them.  That being said, it is a good book and I would definitely put it on my recommended books list.

I do however suggest, should you try this book out to start with the Thrawn Trilogy.  While it’s not completely necessary (as there is a ten-year gap with many events happening), it does give some background on the relationships between the main characters and an interesting place to compare how they have changed in 10 years.

The Hung Parliament

Yesterday, The United Kingdom held a general election for Parliament, called for by Prime Minister Theresa May.  With the results in for the most part (one seat remains in the ether apparently) it appears that there is a “hung parliament.”  For Americans (and non-parliamentarians) this may be a confusing phrase.  So I decided today to look into it and write about it.  If you happen to be british, and want to expand or correct something in my essay, feel free to leave a comment.  I’m always willing to learn, and I’m using primarily online sources right now, which can be a bit vague or misleading at times. If you are not British or American, I apologise for the americentric viewpoint of this essay.  I’m doing this from the viewpoint of an US citizen trying to understand British government. If you want to share how your government compares, I’m also interested in hearing it.

The UK is a democracy that works under a parliamentary model.  Which the US does as well, although we added our own twists on things.  There are some similarities between Parliament and Congress.  For example, its bicameral, although how representatives are elected to both houses is different.  Parliament’s two houses are the House of Lords and the House of Commons.  The House of Lords, as the title suggests is members of noble families and members of the clergy of the Church of England, and they are appointed, rather than elected.  The House of Commons on the other hand is an elected body.

Within the House of Commons, there are several parties.  Unlike in the US, the UK is not a two-party system in practice or theory.  There are several parties, and 650 seats.  A party with a majority of more than 50% of the vote is considered the head of the government.  However, when there is no sure majority the parliament is known as a “hung parliament”.  In this case, two or more parties will join together to form a coalition government.

This is different from the United States, which uses a simple Majority style.  The party with the most seats is head of the house in which they are in(currently the Republican Party).  They in turn elect the person who would hold the senior positions in the house (Speaker of the House; President Pro Tempore) In the UK, even if a party has more seats, it does not automatically give it power.  They have to have a strong majority, with over half of the votes.  Once that is settled (or a coalition/minority government is formed), the Queen will choose a Prime Minister from the party which holds the majority.

Its near impossible for the United States to have a similar situation.  If the Senate (with 100 members) was equally divided) they would still have the President of the Senate – the Vice President.  This would create a majority for one party or another.  The House has 435 members, which makes it hard to really have a 50/50 vote.  On the other hand the United States also has a hard-stuck two-party system which has denied many other views/parties into the mainstream campaigning.

Elections are held every five years as of 2011 in the UK unless a vote is taken to make a special election (as what happened this year) and receives a 2/3rd majority vote in the House of Commons. Prior to yesterday’s election, the Conservative party (sometimes known as Tories) had the majority, and thus their prime Minister was Theresa May.  The Prime Minister appoints the rest of the cabinet as well, which is the government formed.

With a hung Parliament we will have to see which parties will join to create the coalition government. Coalition governments usually come in two forms – a formal arrangement where the two parties join together to pass legislation and both hold roles in the cabinet/government, or an informal one where the smaller party agrees to support the larger parties agenda without a strong role in the government.  Reports so far seem to be Conservatives (who have 49% of the vote and still a technical majority) and the Democratic Union party (who has 1.5)  will be joining together to form an informal coalition of 50.5 percent of the vote.  An unlikely but also possible scenario is that a re-election in August might be made if the Conservatives can not form enough of a working majority to push for their agenda.

It should be interesting to see what happens in the coming months as Brexit negotiations begin and the new government formed by Minster May gets working.

It also shows an interesting look into what may happen in the future elections in the US.  The Conservative rule that seemed to be elected in the last few elections in various countries seems to be swinging to a more moderate stance.  This could affect the United States too as it comes to mid-term elections next year.

Wikipedia: Parliament of the United Kingdom

Wikipedia: General Election 2017 Results

Guardian:  What is a hung parliament

BBC: General Election what you need to know

CBS: What happens if the Senate splits 50-50

 

The Articles of The Confederation: Part 5

Ratification & Repeal

Once drafted, the Articles of Confederation were sent, as a pamphlet, along with a letter from the President of the Continental Congress: Henry Laurens to the 13 states.  They were all asked to look it over and be prepared to vote on it by March 10, 1778.  Most of the states had requests for alterations so the date got pushed back to July.  States started to send in their considerations for amendments to the Articles but in the end none of them were used.   Continue reading

Robin Hood & History

One of my favorite movies growing up was Robin Hood.  It was the Disney version, the one with the Animal kingdom playing out the roles.  According to the story, Robin Hood (a fox) stole from the rich and gave to the poor because Prince John (a Lion, sans mane) was overtaxing the population of Nottinghamshire while ruling for his brother King Richard (a Lion, with a mane).  It’s the basic story behind most Robin Hood movies.

The interesting thing about Robin Hood is it’s both fiction and non-fiction.  It’s a mix of characters who are fictional and characters who were based on real people.  As I grew up, and started to be interested in the back story I found out that some of the stories are more interesting outside the myth.

For example, Prince John.  In Disney’s version of the tale, he’s a laughable villain.  He sucks his thumb and cries for Mommy and is made fun of for that fact.  He’s not even depicted as a fully grown lion, and his crown doesn’t fit his head.  His assistant, Sir HIss, puts up with a lot of abuse in the sake of comedy and somehow remains sane enough to advise his King to make better life decisions.

In reality, Prince John was an actual King, and one fairly important to history.  He was born in 1166, the younger brother of Richard I, or Richard the lion-hearted.  So in that, Robin Hood gets it right.  Richard left for the crusades, and the then Prince John ruled as regent in his stead.  He became King himself in 1199, and ruled for 17 years till his death in 1216.

John was born the sixth son of King Henry II. He was one of 10 children, and a member of the House of Plantagenet.  He is the third of Henry’s sons to be King.  The eldest was Henry, who became co-regent with his father at least in name if not in power. He died in 1183, outlived by his father.  After Henry the II died six years later, RIchard the I became King.  He is known most for being a part of the Crusades, which took up much of his reign.

John himself was regent, although not particularly because RIchard wanted him too.  So in a sense, the movie had that right too.

However, the movie ends with Richard coming back, and reclaiming the throne and punishing his brother.  However, Richard died after only 10 years on the throne, and with no heirs, it left John and his nephew Arthur.

John, being ambitious as history (and Disney) show became King. He became an important part of history because his son Henry III would be the first Plantagenet King and that would lead to the war of the Roses 300 years later.  He also changed English politics forever with the signing of the Magna Carta, which not only started the government transitioning into his modern form, it is also a major influence on the designers of the American Government that would develop 600 years later.  He was also known for taking a more personal involvement in the administration of the country, some positive some negative.  Some of which influenced the portrayal of Prince John the villain.  For example the over taxation occurred during his reign as King.

With the kings of England in the middle ages, its hard to know what was accurate and what was propaganda from a rival.  For example, many people get their idea of these kings from William Shakespeare’s plays (which have inaccuracies and were obviously tailored to suit his Queen) or other items of fiction.  King/Prince John is certainly not the only world leader to have that happen to him.  HIs great-great-grandson (etc)  Richard III was certianly given a reputation by literature and the Tudors.

It just brings me to my younger self who thought the story ended with that “no-good Prince John” being punished for his maltreatment of Nottingham. It was really only half the story and I’m glad I learned to love history and delve deeper into the world Robin Hood is based in.

One day I may go into more research and in-depth about King John.  For now, I’m going to go watch Robin Hood and tell Sir Hiss to get a new job.

The Beatles

June 1st was the anniversary of the the release of Sgt. Pepper. The Beatles are one of my favorite bands.  They have a song for almost any mood, and have been arguably one of the most influential bands of the last fifty years.

But I just like their music.  My favorite song is actually from an older album.  It’s been remade several times. “In My Life” was even a tv theme song to the show Providence.

Over the course of their time together the Fab Four expiramented with themes, styles and instruments.  They even came up with a few recording techniques. Therefore there is quite a variety of songs in their catalog.

They have songs for kids and road trips, angry break up songs, angry activist songs, feel good songs, and iconic songs.

They are up on spotify and other streaming /downloading services and you can also find many of the awesome covers of their music on the same services and youtube.