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review 2017-09-15 18:59
First Women by Kate Andersen Brower
First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies - Kate Andersen Brower

This was an impulsive audiobook listen & probably not something I would normally choose. It had some interesting bits but skipped back and forth in time enough to be annoying. While I felt more sympathy for some presidents and their wives after reading this, my opinion of others actually decreased.

Beginning with Jackie Kennedy - I mean it's impossible to say anything negative about Jackie - this book looks at the 'elite sorority' of first ladies. I was shocked by Lady Bird Johnson's unfailing loyalty and devotion regardless of what her husband did, surprisingly impressed by Pat Nixon, and felt a sympathetic connection with Betty Ford. Rosalynn Carter left less of an impression on me than the women she was surrounded by.

And then we got to the ladies that I actually remember being in the White House. Every time Michelle Obama is mentioned, the writer reminds us that she hates being there. Instead of creating any sympathy for her, I felt like this just made her seem whiny. The reader is also encouraged to think of the Clintons and Obamas as 'working class'. Ummmm...sure. All my friends make $275k/yr - Michelle's salary before entering the White House. I just can't connect with either of these ladies.

Anyway, it was an interesting listen that made me wonder, not for the first time, why anyone would want to be a politician - or one of their wives.

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review 2017-08-18 18:56
Good if you need bits of trivia to share at dinner parties.
A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Po... A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols - Tim Marshall

The premise of the book sounded quite intriguing. What are flags? Why do we use flags to represent nations? Why are there certain protocols and procedures when treating certain flags? How have flags changed over time? Author Marshall takes the reader though that question.

 

Countries, entities like the European Union and their member states, flags of revolution, flags of particular groups, etc. all get a look. From the US Stars and Stripes to the Olympic flag the author gives a look at the history, how it changed, variations, bits of trivia and the like. Some countries like the US get a greater focus (and indeed, the US flag is the first one examined). Some like the countries that make up the EU have a few paragraphs. 

 

I liked the idea but overall I didn't think it was great. As other reviews note it's not an academic work so don't expect a great deal of historical explanations or detail. One huge detriment for me was that kept wishing there were pictures embedded in the text instead of slapped in the middle of the book. Yes, pictures can be distracting. But when discussing the changes of a flag I would have found it much more helpful if there were pictures running along the text.

 

The book seemed very relevant especially in light of the Confederate flag being removed from official buildings and appearing in protests. But I honestly felt like this was a guy talking about a quirky interest he has in flags at a dinner party. I haven't read Marshall's other work but based on what I know of it I'm wondering if this work might have been some sort of side project or off-shoot of his 'Prisoners of Geography' work that wasn't quite relevant for that book and ended up being shuffled into its own text.

 

Mildly interesting but I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. Borrow from the library.

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review 2017-08-01 01:23
Review of Grit by Angela Duckworth
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Overall an interesting look into a topic that has become more and more popular in public education.  The idea that grit and perseverance can be one of the most important character traits to have and develop for all people, but especially young people, is fascinating and makes a great deal of sense.  This book really breaks down that idea and combines simple explanations of the research with examples and interviews with famous people from all walks of life.  I think this book was stretched from what could have been 100 pages into a book of almost 300 pages, but I enjoyed the many anecdotes.  Good to read for parents and teachers.

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review 2017-07-30 21:36
Book Review of Josh Anvil and the Indomitable Power (Josh Anvil #4) by Bruce Arrington
Josh Anvil and the Indomitable Power - Kallie Ennever,John Albers,Bruce E. Arrington

The aliens were right: Josh can’t contain his powers. Not anymore, with his subconscious making monsters he doesn’t control. As Earth’s future looks darker with a catastrophic invasion just around the corner, Josh’s world is torn in two. Weaved in YA fantasy with elements of action and comedy, this fourth book in the Josh Anvil series captures the trials of a high school freshman with powerful abilities at his command.

 

Review 4*

 

This is the fourth book in the Josh Anvil Series. I loved it!

 

Josh Anvil is a fantastic character. I liked him very much from the very first book. He is a smart and curious fourteen (almost fifteen) year old. Unfortunately, he doesn't see himself the same way. He has low self-esteem, which is caused by his dyslexia and being bullied at school. However, he is an excellent story teller and basketball player, has a vivid imagination and incredible powers thanks to the aliens that saved him after an accident in the swamp where he lives. (Read book 1 to find out how that happened).

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review.

 

The story continues from the end of the third book and sees Josh dealing with the aftermath of the battle with the clones, as well as still struggling to deal with the power given to him and this manifests in a most unusual way. He finds himself having to fight against his own fears which, because of his ability to imagine things into being, begin to eat away at his sanity and confidence and takes on a life of its own. However, that's not the only challenge he faces. He still has to stop the aliens from destroying the earth. Not an easy task by any means.

 

This story is just as fast paced and exciting as the first three books. There are several twists and turns, and a few surprises that kept me hooked from beginning to end. Josh has grown as a character throughout this series. As well as gaining confidence in himself and his abilities, he has begun to believe in himself too. I have enjoyed watching him gain this confidence and it made me feel proud of him. I also liked meeting his friends Troy, Kodi, Lonnie, Libby, Jana, Axel, Sadie and Marty (the latter seven being humanoid aliens he and Troy had befriended in book 2) again. They each have their own personality, which makes them come alive in the story. We also meet Josh's new girlfriend, Lisa, and get to know the FBI agents chasing Josh a little better.

 

There is action, adventure and danger aplenty in this story and I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during some scenes. This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotion and when I reached the end of the story I felt sad, but this was only because I wanted to keep reading! The story does end in a small cliffhanger, although the story arc seems to be reaching its climax, so I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series as soon as possible.

 

Bruce Arrington has written an exciting fantasy adventure. I love his fast paced writing style and the flow is wonderful. I would definitely read more of his books in the future.

 

I highly recommend this book to young readers aged 10-18, but I also recommend this book to adults who love to read YA fantasy books filled with action, adventure, danger and aliens. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-07-15 10:45
Perfect finish to the series
Power of the Dance - Jaq D. Hawkins

All the books in this trilogy are supposed to be stand alone, but I think this one needs to be read with background information from at least one of the other two. It occurs a generation after Demoniac Dance and the children in that story have grown up, some even having children of their own.

 

It's hard to say much about this story without giving spoilers for the previous one, so if you haven't read Demoniac Dance, you might want to read that one first before finishing this review.

 

Khemael, the main character, is mostly human looking in appearance, except for his large, dragon-like wings. If he allows a human to see him, there's an equal chance of being mistaken for an angel or a demon. He enjoys flying freely and this causes problems, because of course goblins are supposed to stay out of sight and one of the characters from the previous novel who is a dragon also breaks a few rules by going out to fly.

 

The ability comes in handy when a tribe of wild men move towards the old city and present a danger to the human settlements there. Old enemies have to cooperate once again against a common foe.

 

This had some very dramatic scenes in it and wrapped the series as a whole up very neatly. It's definitely one of my favourite series and I highly recommend it to any Fantasy readers. If you read on Kindle, the complete series in one volume periodically goes on sale very cheaply and it's just called The Goblin Trilogy so keep an eye out for it.

 

I'm partly sad that the ending worked so well because that means no more books in this world, unless the author does a parallel timeline series like Anne McCaffrey and others have done.

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