This book is part memoir part literary critique, and over all I found it really interesting despite not having read the vast majority of the books discussed. Samantha Ellis goes on a mission to reassess her childhood heroines and books that she loved.
I found Ellis' life to be really interesting and while I didn't have the exact same experience of looking for myself in the same books, I was looking for myself or who I could be in other books. I also really enjoyed hearing about her family and upbringing. We don't hear a lot from Iraqi Jews (which isn't super surprising given their history) so hearing from that family view point and how that impacted her was really interesting.
I think I would have rated this book higher if I had had more experience with the books that she talks. That being said I did leave this book with more books to add to my TBR that I am really interested in reading.
When the American colonists broke away from Britain in the 1770s, one of the first challenges they faced was constructing new governments for their states and their nation. Though the details differed, three common factors defined the parameters of what they produced: their British constitutional heritage, the recent experience fighting against British "tyranny," and the need to develop these governments while simultaneously fighting a war for independence. The result was governments in which power was concentrated in the legislature, with the other branches of government placed under considerable constraints. Yet this soon proved only the start of a decades-long effort to develop a workable governing balance, one that extended well into the 19th century.
Richard E. Ellis's book addresses one of the most overlooked aspects of that effort. Using the Jeffersonian Republicans' confrontation with the Federalist-dominated federal judiciary after 1801 as his starting point, he investigates how Americans viewed the role of the judiciary within their new republic. Like the executive, the judiciary suffered from the association with royal control, as most judges during the colonial era were the appointees of the royal or proprietary governors and more responsive to royal interests than those of the colonials. With independence many radicals sought to establish systems in which conflicts were resolved through arbitration by lay citizenry rather than a judicial system dominated by legal technicians. While these views were in the minority, the prevalence of such sentiments often led to the creation of judiciaries more responsive to popular or legislative control.
The ratification of the Constitution paved the way for the creation of a new judiciary, one in which judges held lifetime appointments. For the first twelve years, the appointees to the federal bench were all Federalists, reflecting the party politics that coalesced during the 1790s. With the election of Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800, as well as a Congress controlled by his Republican Party, the lame-duck Federalists created a host of new Federalist judicial appointments with the Judicial Act of 1801 in an effort to turn the branch into a bulwark against Republican radicalism. Yet Jefferson's rhetoric soon proved far more radical than his governance, and without the unifying force of opposition to a Federalist administration, the Jeffersonian Republicans soon fractured into moderate and radical wings. Though they succeeded in repealing the Judiciary Act of 1801, efforts by the radicals to purge the bench through impeachment came to a quick end, as moderate Republicans sided with Federalists in cementing the principle of an independent, non/bi-partisan judiciary that supported a uniform system of common law and aided the growth of a commercial economy.
Ellis's book is a valuable study of an often ignored yet vitally important aspect of the development of the early American government. His integration of debates at the state level with those in national politics is a particular strength, as it demonstrates how the issues were not ones of partisan politics but part of a larger effort to determine the role of judiciary in governance. It makes for a book that should be read by anybody interested in the history of the constitution, the history of the early republic, or simply anybody curious to know why we have the legal system we do today. For as Ellis demonstrates, the debates over the judiciary that took place in the 1790s and early 1800s are ones that echo down to the present day.
Andy and Jake have been friends…best friends for a long time and during that time The Andy & Jake show has kept their friends thoroughly entertained. Andy’s the daredevil. His stunts are daring, nerve wracking and at times downright scary. Jake’s the show’s promoter. He adds the drama and the flare with his dares, his pleading, cajoling whatever it takes to build anticipation of the pending event. Crazy stunts are nothing new for either of these young men…having them go awry is…or at least it was until the day Andy convinced Jake that they could safely hold lit firecrackers in their hands as long as they kept their hands open.
It could have gone so much worse than it did but still after a trip to the local emergency room resulting in a pronouncement of second degree burns on both of their hands, Andy and Jake find themselves having to revise their summer plans leading Andy to come up with the plan that they stay at his family’s summer cottage since they both need help with all of their basic ADLs (activities of daily living) and since Jake’s family doesn’t have the awesome health coverage that Andy’s does it only makes sense, right?
As the summer progresses Andy daredevil streak surfaces in the form of a dare between him and Jake…a dare that while it may bring some relief for the sexual tensions they’re each enduring it could also lead to potential heartbreak for one or maybe even both of them.
From a purely objective viewpoint this really was a cute, friends to lovers, new adult, coming out story. From a subjective viewpoint I could appreciate the writing and the story concept. What I didn’t seem to be able to do was connect with either the story or the characters. I liked the story well enough I just didn’t find myself enchanted with anyone.
I’m not going to sit here and attempt to pick this story apart and expound on all the things that I didn’t like or any of that rhetoric because truthfully, I wouldn’t know what to say. It’s not that this was a bad story or that there were things about it that I didn’t like. It’s just that for me it didn’t have ‘it’, whatever that ‘it’ is that endears a book to us and makes want to crawl inside and live in it…well that wasn’t there for me. There were times when I know things should have been funny or at least mildy amusing for me and they just weren’t.
So maybe this was a case of ‘it’s not you it’s me’ or maybe it was just a case of ‘the right book having the wrong reader or maybe that’s the wrong book with the right reader’. I can’t even say that it was a problem with the narrator because honestly, while the narrator, Tristan Josiah may be a new to me narrator. I thought he did an awesome job with this story. I really enjoyed the voices and looking at it from the perspective of the only the narration I’d have to give this one a solid 4 stars…so no matter how I look at it for me it comes down to the fact that this time around things just didn’t work…that’s it, that’s all.
Would I recommend this book…absolutely a lot of my friends really loved this one and I value their opinions a lot. Don’t get me wrong I value my opinion too but just like not everyone loves what I do…not everyone doesn’t love the same things as I do and there is the fact that overall, I really like Eli Easton’s writing and whether I love them or only like them…I’ve never been sorry that I read one of her stories…definitely a win in my eyes.
A copy of ‘Five Dares’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The great annual Fair of Saint Peter at Shrewsbury, a high point in the citys calendar, attracts merchants from far and wide to do business. But when an unseemly quarrel breaks out between the local burghers and the monks from the Benedictine monastery as to who shall benefit from the levies the fair provides, a riot ensues. Afterwards a merchant is found dead, and Brother Cadfael is summoned from his peaceful herb garden to test his detective skills once more.
What a pleasure it is to find a character and a series that I consistently enjoy. Four books into the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, and I am well and truly hooked. So I am well pleased to see that I still have 16 books ahead of me. The trick will be not to read them too quickly!
Brother Cadfael is a wonderful medieval sleuth—he’s participated in the Crusades, he’s had love affairs, he’s a man of the world, but he has chosen “retirement” in Shrewsbury Abbey. I think his philosophy would be that God helps those who help themselves, although in this installment he receives one of his greatest breakthroughs by withdrawing to the chapel to pray. Abbey politics also feature in these books and Cadfael is getting used to a new leader (and they seem to see eye to eye).
People are people, regardless of time period. Young people are going to have strong opinions, occasionally drink too much and embarrass themselves, fall in love, and generally do the things that young people do. Including getting implicated in crimes. Cadfael is wonderfully non-judgmental for a monk and full of quiet wisdom. A person who notices small details and can put them together quickly & accurately, he is an excellent forensic investigator before such a thing was considered.
A joy to read this comfortable, entertaining series.