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review 2020-08-25 21:20
Madame President by Helene Cooper
Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Helene Cooper

I picked this book up primarily because I loved the author’s memoir, The House at Sugar Beach, about growing up in Liberia until political instability and terror forced her family to leave. This book, though, is a biography of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018 and the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa. It’s a good biography, readable and engaging as all the best journalistic work is, and certainly informative though it lacks the humor and personal touch of Cooper’s memoir.

About the first quarter of this relatively short biography (290 pages) covers the first approximately 50 years of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s life, spending a few pages on her childhood before moving on to her marriage, higher education, subsequent divorce from her abusive husband (even though it meant no longer being able to raise most of their children), and her career as a financial bureaucrat. The second quarter focuses more on Liberia’s civil war and the years of coups and atrocities. Johnson Sirleaf was absent from Liberia for much of this time working for financial institutions abroad, but the reader needs to understand something of what was happening in the country to put her presidency in context. Finally, the last half covers her elections and presidency, though the book ends in 2015 and was published in 2017, before she actually left office.

The book is highly readable and offers a lot of explanation to readers who may not know anything about Liberia; Cooper is clearly adept at bridging two cultures. It is an admiring biography, and as far as I can tell an authorized one—Johnson Sirleaf allowed Cooper to follow her around and was interviewed for the book, though Cooper didn’t share her drafts—but Cooper also highlights areas where Johnson Sirleaf made poor or questionable choices. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about all her female supporters who stole their adult sons’ voter IDs to prevent them from voting for her clearly unqualified male opponent, for instance—interestingly to me, Liberian women seemed far more likely to vote for a candidate because of her gender than their American counterparts. But I was glad to see Cooper really dig into Johnson Sirleaf’s achievements in office: the chapter about how she managed to persuade other governments, multinational institutions and private companies to forgive Liberia’s $4.7 billion debt is fantastic and highlights a huge accomplishment that few others could possibly have achieved.

Meanwhile, other reviewers have mentioned that the book deals with some dark subject matter around Liberia’s civil war, and this is true though it isn’t the primary focus of the book. The last 35 pages mostly focus on the Ebola pandemic, which was interesting to read during another pandemic: there was a lot of initial denial around Ebola too, though once people accepted that it was real they seemed to do a good job of taking necessary precautions to wipe it out.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of good information in this book, but there’s more distance from its subject than I would have expected in a semi-authorized biography of someone who’s still alive: I didn’t get much sense of Johnson Sirleaf’s personality, what makes her tick, how the people close to her view her, etc. Maybe she didn’t want her personal life in a book, her family didn’t want to share, and Cooper decided to respect their wishes—hard to say. But while I still blew through the book in just a few days, I think I would have liked it even better with more personality. Cooper credits several people in the acknowledgments with making her ditch her “flip tone” and I wound up wishing she’d kept it. There are a few humorous bits, which were welcome.

But I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject, and Johnson Sirleaf is without doubt a tough and impressive woman, though (like everybody else) imperfect. Those who would like a more personal, in-depth and at times humorous story (with some overlapping subject matter) should check out the author’s memoir.

Only time will tell how to interpret events after the end of this book: Johnson Sirleaf stepped down in 2018, allowing for Liberia’s first peaceful transition of power in decades, but then the winner of that election was George Weah (the soccer player), whose vice president is Jewel Taylor (ex-wife of Charles Taylor, the war criminal). Hmm. I hope Cooper will keep on writing books about Liberia; I for one will be happy to keep reading them.

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review 2020-07-06 01:57
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise - Dan Gemeinhart

I inhaled this book today. For five years, Coyote and Rodeo had been putting the miles on Yager, traveling wherever their hearts led them. Every day was an adventure with very few rules for the two of them. I loved how the author revealed the character’s story to the reader slowly throughout the book. The past and present are important to this story and the author combines the two of them to present a sweet, emotional story about family, friendship and love. I really enjoyed Coyote’s mannerism and attitude in this story. In her early teens, she’s still a child but trying to act older. She wants to please her father but she also has her own needs and she’s trying to find a balance. I had quite a few “ahh” moments while reading this book, as they struck a sweet spot inside me. This journey was remarkable. The individuals that they met were fantastic as each of them played an important part in their trip. When Coyote showed Salvador her favorite place, oh my gosh! What a scene!! Then, there was the violin scene! The campsite scene! Come on……..I loved every one of them. Be ready when you read this book for all the great scenes, they’re to be savored. The last 20+ pages in the book, the words were all flowing together as the tears were falling down my face. Coyote and Rodeo have different ways of looking at the past and the future. Living in the present is a good concept but the present is also made up of your past, if you allow it. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.

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review 2020-06-26 09:10
Release Package ~ Blocked
  
 
Title: Blocked
Series: Boston Terriers Hockey
Author: Jacob Chance
Genre: New Adult/Sports Romance
Release Date: June 26, 2020 
 
 
 
Attending Boston University was something we were supposed to do together, until Shaw Masters, my brother’s best friend, broke my heart and chased our dream without me. 
Choosing bromance over romance, Shaw is now living his best life, playing hockey for the Boston Terriers while I’ve wasted a year letting my shattered heart rob me of my future.
 
But not anymore. 
 
Now, also attending B.U., I’m determined to forget he exists. 
 
Who cares if he’s everywhere I turn with his familiar, lingering gaze drawing me in? 
 
Who cares if his presence stirs up old feelings best forgotten?
 
He might be the goalie, but it’s my turn to block him from gliding back into my heart.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blocked (Boston Terriers Hockey, #3)Blocked by Jacob Chance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #3, in the Boston Terriers Hockey series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this fun series in order intended.

Maddie is finally done with high school and on to the rest of her life. A life she has been waiting and hoping for. Along with Shaw giving her a chance at a future, anyway. Only he has no idea.

Shaw has been feeling something new for Maddie for a while. Not really sure how to approach it, he wants to feel her out without her overprotective brother in the way. Little does he know how poetic those thoughts are going to be.

The series continues with the latest couple being my new favorite. I love how their friendship builds with somewhat ease. They were already connected, so it was only a matter of time. The characters were a pleasure to read. I was rooting for them right from the very start.


***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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Jacob Chance grew up in New England and still lives there today. He's a martial artist, a football fan, a practical joker and junk food lover.
A writer of sports romcoms and romantic suspense, he plans on providing you with many more stories.
 
  
 
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review 2020-05-02 08:10
Blog Tour w/Review - Lessons In Leomade
 
 
Title: Lessons in Lemonade
Series: Starving for Southern Series
Author: Kathryn Andrews
Genre: Contemporary/Sports Romance
Release Date: April 28, 2020
 
 
 
Meg Dukette
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
 
I believe in living my best life, and if surviving cancer taught me anything, it’s exactly that. I wake every day in the most beautiful city in the South, I’m a chef at my own restaurant, and everything is just the way I want it: easy, calm, and in perfect harmony—that is, until my best friend shows up with his wounded heart, smoldering gaze, and adorable dimples. Now, things are changing—we are changing—but with the promises I’ve made to myself, I don’t want them to. After everything I’ve been through, breaking them now seems unthinkable, but the alternative might be a lesson my heart’s not prepared to learn.
 
Jack Willett
Just when you think life is the best it’s ever been, fate has a way of intercepting. 
 
I’ve spent ten years playing in the NFL, and with one wrong hit, my world comes crashing down. Now, I’m at the crossroads of what might become my past and a very different future. What I need is time and my best friend. Her gorgeous smiles, sexy legs, and optimistic outlook on life make the world brighter, better, and I’ve quickly found myself craving her more and more. She says we’re just friends, says that’s all we’ll ever be, but actions speak louder than words. It’s time to change the game, and I’m ready to pass the ball. I just hope she’ll be on the other end to catch it.
 
He’s her best friend. 
She’s quickly turned into something more. 
 
Will making a play for her heart be more bitter than sweet? Or will it add just the right amount of zest to make the most delicious ending of all . . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lessons in Lemonade (Starving for Southern, #3)Lessons in Lemonade by Kathryn Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #3, in the Starving For Southern series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment and to fully understand the series, I recommend reading this great series in order.

Jack has been in the NFL the last 10 years. He has had an incredible team and made good friends. When the worst happens, he turns to whom he needs the most. His best friend, Meg.

Meg has never wanted forever. She makes it clear to all who know her that its just easier to be the person living her best life. She has great talent, good friends, and is doing what she can to just be healthy and live everyday.

This was such a great and heartwarming story. Right from the first page I felt totally sucked into the story and could not put it down! I loved these characters already from the series, and this was an installment that felt like icing on the cake. (Or pie.) Being able to read about their journey was totally a gift.


***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

View all my reviews

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kathryn Andrews loves stories that end with a happily ever after. She started writing at age seven and never stopped. Kathryn is an Amazon Bestseller for her much loved Hale Brothers Series and is a chi-lit, contemporary romance, and new adult writer. 
Kathryn graduated from the University of South Florida with degrees in Biology and Chemistry, and currently lives in Tampa, Florida. She spends her days as a sales director for a medical device company and her nights lost in her love of fictional characters.
When Kathryn is not crafting beautiful worlds that incorporate some of her most favorite real life places, she can be found hanging out with her husband and two young sons, while drinking iced coffee and enjoying the sun. To find out more about Kathryn and her novels, visit: www.kandrewsauthor.com.
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2020-04-28 15:08
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His LIfe - Heinz Janisch,Maja Kateslic

Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley

Janisch and Kastelic’s children’s book about the life Hans Christian Andersen is well done and beautifully illustrated.

Janisch structures the story as one that Andersen himself is telling to a young girl as they ride to Copenhagen together in a carriage. The biography is very like Andersen’s “Fairy Tale of My life”. While the biography might be on the simplistic side, it is good and far from general. Andersen’s father’s PTSD is shown. The story of Andersen’s arrival in Copenhagen is showcased with its brave strangeness. Andersen’s complex relationship with the Collins’ family, in particular Edvard, is not dealt with, but this is a children’s book so not that surprising; how could it be in such a format.

Kastelic’s illustrations are beautiful. Not only do they showcase Odense and Copenhagen, but there are little details drawn from the tales. The style itself also reminds one of Andersen’s own tales.

Highly recommended.

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