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text 2017-09-19 14:35
Reading progress update: I've read 65%.
One of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus

When I heard that this was basically The Breakfast Club with a criminal twist I couldn't wait to read it. It's the story of five high school kids that go into detention together and only four come out alive. It's intriging and holding my attention well, although it's not quite as addictive as I'd hoped.

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text 2017-09-19 12:42
More for the Education Shelf
5th Grade Geography: Seas and Oceans of the World: Fifth Grade Books Marine Life and Oceanography for Kids (Children's Oceanography Books) - Baby Professor
4th Grade US History: The Civil War Years: Fourth Grade Book US Civil War Period (Children's American Revolution History) - Baby Professor
4th Grade Geography: North and South Poles: Fourth Grade Books Polar Regions for Kids (Children's Explore Polar Regions Books) - Baby Professor

I realize that these state that they are for 4th and 5th grades, but I felt that they might have some information that would be good for what we are studying, but these were too young. I felt that they would have been good for kindergarten or 1st graders over 4th or 5th graders. 

 

The pictures in the books were very well done and the wording was definitely for teaching, but was definitely too young for the grades mentioned. 

 

 

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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 2017-09-15 18:25
I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott
I, Eliza Hamilton - Susan Holloway Scott

With Hamilton: An American Musical taking the US by storm, I knew it wouldn't take long for someone to capitalize on the idea of a novel about Eliza. I also knew I would be first in line to get it. Eliza in the musical is sweet, loyal, devoted and the perfect person to balance the ambitious, fiery Hamilton. I loved the idea of focusing on her point-of-view and learning more about her story beyond Alexander.

Historical facts not treated as spoilers.

I heard the soundtrack of the musical playing in my mind the entire time I was reading this, and was thoroughly disappointed when they ended at the same time. After looking forward to reading about Eliza's life after Hamilton - she outlived him by 50 years - I discovered that this author has decided that only the Alexander years were interesting. In fact, the entire story reads that way. Eliza is almost obsessed with her husband and has no interests or passions of her own besides bearing his children. Some of this is appropriate. Eliza was a woman of her time and was devoted to her husband, but that's why it would have been nice to learn more about her life after his death.

When Alexander meets the Schuyler sisters, it is a bit different than the vision of Angelica, Peggy, & Eliza sneaking into downtown NYC to find an 'urchin who can give you ideals.' In fact, anyone who knows their history primarily from the musical will be disappointed to discover that Angelica did not decide to introduce Alexander to Eliza after her epiphany of 'three fundamental truths.' She was Angelica Church long before she met Hamilton, though she did famously flirt with him and seemingly most men she came into contact with. (This and a few other themes are repeated incessantly. Angelica flirts. Alexander works too hard & is so much smarter than anyone else. Eliza is soooo in love....and always pregnant.)

This novel adheres more strictly to historical truths than the musical, which is probably its greatest strength. Hamilton comes across largely the same. 'I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish. The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish. I gotta holler just to be heard. With every word, I drop knowledge!' Eliza almost manages to remain a supporting character in her own story. And maybe there's a reason she is not usually brought to the forefront. Her story is bland. Her never-ending pledges of undying love and telling the reader how handsome and brilliant her husband is just doesn't captivate. I found myself waiting for the big moments that I knew were coming so that the novel would get an injection of drama.

Except that didn't happen. When Eliza reads the Reynolds Pamphlet, she takes less time to get over it than it takes Phillipa Soo to sing 'Burn,' and Philip's death did not create anywhere near the emotional impact that I expected. This Eliza can accept anything as long as Alexander still pledges his love to her. 

And then it's over. Of course, I had guessed this based on the remaining pages shrinking to a point that there was no way another 50 years was going to be covered, but I held out irrational hope until the bitter end. More of Eliza's post-Alexander life is revealed in 'Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.'

Admittedly, I do not typically read romance novels, and this seems to be getting great ratings from readers who look more specifically for this genre. In my opinion, there was a bit too much gloss and not enough emotion to get a reader truly involved. Still, it is a quick read for 400ish pages and has some good historical nuggets included.

I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

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