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review 2017-10-09 14:58
Review of A Self-Made Man by Sidney Blumenthal
A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809 - 1854 - Sidney Blumenthal

This is one of the more detailed history books I have ever read. This is the first in what will be a series of books that detail the political life of Abraham Lincoln. Countless books have been written about Lincoln, but what sets this book apart is the almost overwhelming details given about seemingly anyone of importance at the national and local (for Illinois and Washington, DC) levels during the years of the 1820s through the 1840s. At times it was difficult to keep all of the people organized in my head while reading, but I have to say that I learned more from this book than any book I can remember reading in a long time.

I think the author was very fair showing us Lincoln as he was, warts and all. At times he was very biased against some historical figures including John C. Calhoun (who he basically blames for everything bad that happened in the country during his time as a political leader) and Joseph Smith. If I was Mormon, I would probably be offended by the chapters describing the early years of the Mormons and their leader Smith.

I most enjoyed learning about the real divisions in the anti-slavery movements of the time. We always have the idea that all Northerners were abolitionists but as this book makes clear, the abolitionists were considered extreme radicals and there was a real difference between being an abolitionist and someone considered anti-slavery. Within those groups there were sub-groups and like any real political movement, no matter how important the cause, politics and ambition drove most of the decisions.

Highly recommended but only for those that have a deep knowledge of of the antebellum era coming into the book.

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review 2016-08-03 16:53
Mafia Girl by Deborah Blumenthal
Mafia Girl - Deborah Blumenthal

"What's in a name? Everything… if you have my name." At her exclusive Manhattan high school, half the guys lust after seventeen-year-old Gia. The other half are afraid to even walk near her. After all, everyone knows who she is. They know that her father doesn't have a boss. He is the boss--the capo di tutti, boss of all bosses. But they don't know the real Gia. She's dreaming of a different life--one where she can be more than her infamous name. And lately, she's thinking way too much about Michael, the green-eyed cop who's wrong for her for so many reasons. And yet being with him feels so right. Now the real Gia is keeping secrets of her own alongside her family's. And she's breaking all the rules to get what she wants.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Gia is the teenage daughter of a Mafia don who is accustomed to a life of luxury, status, and getting whatever she wants. One day she's riding shotgun in a car stolen by her friend Ro (Rosemarie). They get pulled over for speeding and once the arresting officer finds out both girls are underage and neither seem to be the legal owner of the car, he hauls them into the station. Gia's family connections get her free of charges in a hurry, but not before she develops a hardcore crush for that officer, Michael, whom she cringingly dubs "Officer Hottie". Gia then sets out to get him to fall for her, basically stalking him at all his hang-out places while he's off-duty. However, her lust-driven activities are quickly halted when her father finds himself in serious legal trouble, a mess his top-notch lawyer might actually be unable to get him out off. Suddenly, instead of enjoying a fun flirtation, Gia is watching her family and life as she knows it crumble before her eyes. 

 

Being quite the fan of mafia-themed fiction (one of my all-time favorite movies is GoodFellas!), I thought this would be right up my alley. I figured this would be a more light-hearted take on the theme... mafia girl going for young cop... could be cute, right?  But man, the writing here felt all over the place. Incredibly amateurish, just riddled with mediocrity. I was disappointed at how unlikeable Gia turned out to be. I honestly struggled to find anything that would firmly plant me on the Team Gia side. Her dialogue was made up of SO much unnecessary profanity and annoyingly abbreviated words. Sure, a lot of teens like to speak that way, but Gia's speech went far past what you'd hear from the average American teen. It struck me more as the type of thing where an adult was trying to take on that way of speaking but overreaching it, killing the believability. 

 

Then there was the whole what-are-they-exactly confusing relationship between Gia and Michael. Gia plays the sex-kitten image so hard it's actually embarrasing to read, because she's just going at it too hard. You want to scream for her to pull back and stop being a creeper! And Michael was just odd. She's in high school, he's on the police force. There should have been no question where his stance should be but he goes from "aww no I shouldn't" to "nope, I totally need to be all up in that". His "sexy" dialogue -- if anyone could even remotely call it that -- pulled as many grossed out groans from me as Gia's did, maybe more! I'm sorry, there was just something about the way he was written that came off as too To Catch A Predator to me. And Gia spends the majority of the story in a pretty consistent spoiled brat mode, so... hard to root for a guy who clearly just wants her because she's hot, regardless of how irritating she'd be long-term. 

 

The few things that I give a few redeeming points for: I liked the scenes between Gia and her father and the ones with Gia and her best friend Clive. Clive was actually my favorite character in the whole book and offered the one and only plot twist for me -- I did not expect his story to have such a dark vein in there. In fact, it was only after Clive reveals his secret, and Gia's response to it, that I started to see a glimmer of something admirable in her. There was also a scene shortly after that moment when Gia fights back against having her life uprooted yet again.... but just I was starting to think her character was having a turning point, she went back to her old bratty ways and the story was lost for me again.

:-(

 

I still think the concept for the story is a cute one, but my impression was that it might have worked a bit better for me if Gia had been even just a few years older. Giving her those few extra years to mentally mature could've made all the difference in this wannabe love story. 

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review 2016-02-21 13:50
Someone Else's Love Letter/Deborah Blumenthal
Someone Else's Love Letter - Deborah Blumenthal

Fixing your wardrobe is a dream job. Fixing your life is a work of art.

Sage Parker has the perfect occupation for a Manhattanite―she helps the rich and powerful keep their wardrobes current and suitable for every need. Her sense of fashion is impeccable, her connections are unsurpassed, and her eye misses not a single well-made stitch.

So when she discovers a love note left in the back of a cab, Sage admires the card stock and the ink, but also the heartfelt words. She sets out on a mission to find out who the love note was intended for―and who wrote it.

What Sage discovers will broaden her horizons and change her life, introducing her to an extraordinary woman who is revamping her entire world midway through life, a dashing Brit with a hive of secrets, and a free-spirited painter, whose brush captures the light in everything he paints, including Sage.

Fans of Isabel Wolff and Kathleen Tessaro will be hopelessly enchanted with Sage Parker and this mesmerizing, heartfelt novel of bold fashion and bolder choices.

Though the plot was a little more convoluted than I had expected, this was a fun and flirty rom com.

 

I'm not usually entertained by characters who have jobs like wardrobe designing; however, Sage really made this work and I almost felt inspired to go out and get a similar job. Sage made it so much about her clients' personalities and I loved seeing how they changed throughout the novel and how with her style advise she was able to shape their futures for the better.

 

The convoluted path following the letter brought forward mild hilarity with some unexpected results. Of course it was a challenge to track down the author of a love letter that just mysteriously happened to appear on the floor of a cab, but the book wasn't entirely about the chase.

 

The guy she's looking for is fantastically played, with a very stubborn personality that made me immediately like him. There were several scenes in which he won me over completely based on his total oblivion to what she was expecting, and I appreciated how he made his own decisions.

 

I definitely recommend this one for a quick and amusing read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-11-03 00:39
A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal
A Different Me - Deborah Blumenthal

My life would be perfect if…..I had a better job, if I had more education, or perhaps if I had could just say no more often. Most people have said or have had thoughts about having a perfect life but for Allie her perfect life would start if she had Amber’s nose. This slender, straight feature sits perfectly on Amber’s face and people are not drawn to its appearance, now if only Allie had one just like it. Allie has been obsessed with Amber’s nose for a while and while she has brought up the idea of surgery to her parents that’s all it’s been, just a subject nothing more. Rhinoplasty, typing these words into her computer’s search engine gives Allie hope. Connecting with two other teens with the same desire to have nose surgery, she finds a connection. From a desperate Allie, I feel brightness and spunk move into Allie; she comes alive and rejuvenated as she connects with her new friends. The three girls have a lot to talk about and their future plans all point to the same destination. At school, being paired up with Amber for tutoring, their teacher creates an incredible experience for the two girls. It’s amazing how their teacher paired these two girls together on her own. For it’s more than just an education Amber receives, it’s an eye-opener for both of them. Allie also gets an eye-opener from David, the annoying boy with the camera. His obsession with his camera, the way he’s always snapping pictures, getting his camera in everyone’s way starts to get on Allie’s nerves. David waits, he’s patient, being a photographer he’s used to waiting for the perfect moment, for when the perfect moment arises, David will then make his move.

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review 2014-05-04 00:00
Mafia Girl
Mafia Girl - Deborah Blumenthal I DON'T KNOW WHAT I JUST READ.

It's not super bad, but it's super weird and creepy. Kissed my sibling kind of weird and creepy.

Dear MIB, please use that memory eraser on me now, I feel all icky inside.
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