A Storm Hits Valparaiso

Rated 3.75/5 based on 9 reviews
Catalina Flores de la Peña's tongue got her in more trouble than any other part of her body, even though there were far more likely candidates. But when a storm rolls into her sleepy port town, she finds herself embroiled with a gang of adventurers, mercenaries, and prostitutes on a journey to free South America from the Spanish Empire. More

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Words: 99,640
Language: English
ISBN: 9789187109133
About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is a 34-year old Irish writer, living in Sweden, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories.

He is the author of the South American historical adventure "A Storm Hits Valparaiso" and the short stories "If You Go Into The Woods" and "Transfection" as well as the popular self-publishing guide "Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should."

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Kelli Flores on June 24, 2012 :
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I did not have much knowledge of San Martin, other than his name and a list of battles (high school history in Mexico). A Storm Hits Valparaiso does a good job of setting up the rather complex set of countries and characters who were involved in the struggle for independence in the Southern Cone of South America.

While I learned quite a bit, it was not a perfect book. Some of the writing was choppy, and it jumped between scenes without any notice. Characters were unevenly developed and it seemed that a focus on fewer people would have improved the flow of the narrative. Also, while I know how bloody and difficult the independence wars were, the book did not have to be so depressing.

The book did an exceptional job at not setting this war in a vacuum: most of the fighting was located in Chile, but some was in Argentina (which was also a base to go back to and regroup); the freedom fighters came from diverse South American countries - including escaped Brazilian slaves; Spain obviously played a role as they fought to retain their colony; England and France played a part, etc. The elements that converged, setting the stage for the ultimate success of the wars of independence are covered nicely.

I do believe the pros outweigh the cons in this case, by quite a bit. I would especially recommend this book for Spanish teachers and students who do not specialize in this region, but think it is good for a pretty general audience overall.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kelli Flores on June 24, 2012 :
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I did not have much knowledge of San Martin, other than his name and a list of battles (high school history in Mexico). A Storm Hits Valparaiso does a good job of setting up the rather complex set of countries and characters who were involved in the struggle for independence in the Southern Cone of South America.

While I learned quite a bit, it was not a perfect book. Some of the writing was choppy, and it jumped between scenes without any notice. Characters were unevenly developed and it seemed that a focus on fewer people would have improved the flow of the narrative. Also, while I know how bloody and difficult the independence wars were, the book did not have to be so depressing.

The book did an exceptional job at not setting this war in a vacuum: most of the fighting was located in Chile, but some was in Argentina (which was also a base to go back to and regroup); the freedom fighters came from diverse South American countries - including escaped Brazilian slaves; Spain obviously played a role as they fought to retain their colony; England and France played a part, etc. The elements that converged, setting the stage for the ultimate success of the wars of independence are covered nicely.

I do believe the pros outweigh the cons in this case, by quite a bit. I would especially recommend this book for Spanish teachers and students who do not specialize in this region, but think it is good for a pretty general audience overall.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Bill Thibadeau on May 26, 2012 :
I appreciate that this book exists as it gave me a quick summary of the struggle for independence of some South American countries. That was not enough for me to give this book a good review.

I think that this story of historical fiction is reminiscent of James Michener's two volume set of the beginnings of South Africa. That tome was enjoyable and dealt with the full history of South Africa.

A Storm Hits Valparaiso misses the boat in telling a thoughtful story of the independence of some South American countries. It is choppy and muddled. I found some chapter breaks in the middle of a continuing thought and at other times, dramatic changes were not chapter breaks.

This book takes on too many countries in one story. It would have fared better by concentrating on expanding the story to provide more continuity and depth of data so the reader may understand what was happening in a interactive manner. I felt the author was reporting to me on some aspects of history instead of living it with me.

There were also too many inconsequential characters. I would rather that the author would have concentrated the main people in the story. I found St. Martin and Cochrane well developed and interesting.

If you are a fan of historical fiction and would like a cursory history of the lower South American struggle for independence, then this may be a good choice for you.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Grant McHerron on April 22, 2012 :
Based on the factual history of the liberation of South America from the Spanish, this story mixes actual events with fictional stories & activities for both key historical figures and additional supporting characters caught up in the saga's flow. With characters from England, France, Spain & Latin America, it's a great way to get an overview of the wars of independence & other European events during the 1800's.

The writer presents an interesting & enjoyable story that keeps you turning the pages from start to finish and if you've ever been in South America, you'll recognise many of the names & major events. While it could have been a lot more detailed & a much bigger novel, the book stays lean & sticks to the main events with supporting stories around the side. This helps keep it an enjoyable, fast read without getting bogged down in details.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Jody Darden on April 01, 2012 :
This was a LT Member Giveaway win. A well writen mini-epic taking place mainly in South America.
This book has a little of everything. Adventure, love, war, friendship, brotherhood. A good read that I did enjoy. Most of the characters were well written with a few not so much. The cast is followed through a liberating war with Spain, and you do end up caring about these characters.
My issue with the book is its length. A story of this magnitude requires more story. Some of the cast members I liked were not well developed enough and some were killed off with little fanfare. Though I suppose war lends itself to that.
I recommend this historical fiction though some will find it unsatisfying in that regard.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Booketta on March 24, 2012 :
I won this book from LibraryThing Members Give-aways. A wonderfully written adventure set in South America. The countries are at war with Spain, there are false rumours about the death of Napoleon and trouble within the ranks of the British Navy. Initially the book starts with each chapter telling an individual story. After a few of these seemingly separate stories, I thought the book was just that, full of short stories, albeit very good ones. However, a few chapters in, characters reappeared and it became clear that they would all be connected in some way to tell the whole story. This is historical fiction , however the author states in his 'historical note' that "every effort was made to make this book historically accurate" and tells us that the historical record is imperfect. As far as accuracy goes, I felt that didn't matter because it was such a wonderful tale, descriptive, with good characterisations and the narrative flowed beautifully.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Dorothyanne Brown on March 19, 2012 :
A Storm Hits Valparaiso is a big, big book - not so much size wise, but definitely theme and story-wise. Others have given a more detailed review, but for those who want the quick and dirty - the characters are well-drawn enough to bring you into caring about their futures, but there are almost too many of them to keep track of. The story is meaningful and historical and I love reading about South America so that drew me in - I found the storyline quite fascinating, but again, almost too big for one novel.
Well-written and engaging, but not for a "last thing before sleep" read - too meaty for this. Would be very good for a wallowing in, over a rainy weekend or at the cottage, where you could just immerse yourself in the characters and ride along. It is a rewarding ride.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Gregory Lynn on Feb. 06, 2012 : (no rating)
I have a lot of respect for David Gaughran. I read his blog daily and his non fiction work Let’s Get Digital manages to be both inspiring and of practical use so when I saw the chance to get a review copy of his first novel, A Storm Hits Valparaiso I jumped at it, not lease because I saw it as a way of repaying a little bit of what I’ve gotten from David over the past several months.

A Storm Hits Valparaiso is an epic story of love, hate, brotherhood, power, revenge, and the thirst for independence told from the points of view of a variety of people in positions both high and low. For the sake of perspective, Historical Fiction is not a genre I read a lot and I have no particular interest in South America. My home genre is Epic Fantasy though, so I am fully ready to accept a story that spans a continent where what’s at stake is the lives of every single person on the continent.

I wanted to love this book and I ended up just liking it.

Why did I like it?

Well, it has a little bit of everything it claims. There is love, of both the romantic and brotherly varieties. There is the simple struggle for survival of individuals juxtaposed against the larger struggle for the survival of a people with a regional identity. There is the desire of individual slaves to be free smacked right up next to the desire of a nation of people desiring to be free of a colonial power half a world away. In short, it has everything you would want in an epic.

Why then, didn’t I love it?

There are two things I would point to but I think they both stem from one overriding factor. The story is too big for the book. I come from a world of Epic Fantasy where doorstopper novels are, if not quite the norm, well within the normal range. A Storm Hits Valparaiso comes in at a bit less than a hundred thousand words which is fairly normal for a novel. But this isn’t a normal novel. We don’t have a main plot with a few sub plots. Gaughran is trying to tell us a real story from real history and if you haven’t noticed, real life is far more complex than your average novel.

To get into the specifics, I think A Storm Hits Valparaiso has two significant flaws.

One is characterization. It is spotty at best. There are, I think, two characters who are decently written though even there, we should have had more. In other cases, including what should have been one of the more emotional subplots there wasn’t enough characterization to make me actually care about the character. If I don’t care about them I don’t care about what happens to them and they—and the novel—lose all the dramatic tension they should have.

The other problem—and it’s related—is a showing/telling problem. There are a lot of places where Gaughran tells us something instead of showing us something and the story suffers as a result.

For example, there are two brothers, Jorge and Diego who get separated for a long time. When they get back together they find things aren’t quite like they were before and they end up growing apart. Gaughran tells us this and gives us a scene or two to illustrate. It should have been the reverse. Give us nine scenes where we can see that things are different and just a few lines where one of them recognizes the differences.

All in all, if you like historical fiction and/or have a particular affection for South America, I think you’ll really enjoy this story.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: K Gonzalez on Feb. 02, 2012 :
A Storm Hits Valparaiso is an adventure of epic porportions. This historical fiction starts out with a bang...really. The short chapters make reading easy and not lose your place. Each chapter is a vignette masterfully entwined with the realities of South American difficulties, dispair, and human emotions. I was captivated by the ability of Gaughran to wield such graphic depictions of a personal nature and involve his characters in such a spirited fight for their contry, for money, for love, for ambition, for recognition and for some semblance of peace. I had never really thought of the the trials and tribulations other countries had gone through in their past and A Storm Hits Valparaiso has now made me aware of this. A very compelling and moving read for all who enjoy historical fiction...in fact a good read for anyone!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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