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review 2018-06-17 06:37
Dinner in Camelot: The Night America's Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House - Joseph A. Esposito

Prior to reading "DINNER IN CAMELOT: The Night America's Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House", the most I knew of this most unique dinner which took place on the evening of Sunday, April 29, 1962 was from a now famous statement President Kennedy made there. It is as follows: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." One of my high school U.S. history teachers first made me aware of that quote, which left a deep impression that hasn't left me after almost 40 years. 

Joseph A. Esposito has taken considerable care in reconstructing for the reader what that White House dinner was like - down to the various personalities (e.g. Linus & Ava Helen Pauling; Dr. Ralph Bunche, the first African American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the UN in negotiating the 1949 armistice between Israel and the Arab States; J. Robert Oppenheimer - the father of the atomic bomb - for whom this dinner marked the beginning of his political rehabilitation after having had his security clearance stripped away from him in 1954; the poet Robert Frost; the widow of Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway; the literary personages Mr. and Mrs. Lionel & Diana Trilling; Pearl Buck; William & Rose Styron - who later became close friends of the Kennedys; the writer and social critic James Baldwin; and the astronaut John Glenn) in attendance. 

The book also has the complete seating plan for the dinner, which took place in the State Dining Room (where President Kennedy presided at the lead table, # 7) and the Blue Room (where the First Lady, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, sat at the lead table, # 17) - in addition to several photographs that were taken at the dinner itself. They help to recapture, in a large sense, an America that was sure of itself and its place in the world despite the perils and challenges of the time, and the essence of a President and First Lady who encouraged a flowering of the arts and sciences among all Americans - as well as inspiring people to be and do better for themselves and humanity. 

I absolutely enjoyed reading "DINNER IN CAMELOT" which I think will serve in years to come as the main source for anyone wanting to know more about this unique and seminal event in 20th century U.S. history. It may also remind the reader that it is possible for the U.S. to extricate itself from the polarization and toxic national politics that bedevils us in the present time. For we live in a nation that has had many ups and downs since its inception in 1789 - and managed to, at various times, to embrace "the better angels" of its spirit and character.


Let "DINNER IN CAMELOT" remind the reader that We the People can work together anew to make a better nation for ourselves and future generations through encouraging a renewed appreciation for the arts and sciences.


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review 2018-06-14 22:11
A Radiant Soul by Kianna Alexander
A Radiant Soul: A Sweet Way to His Heart Novella - Kianna Alexander

This story involves Rosaline's  (from Drifting to You) former apprentice, Sarah, as she carves out a career baking in a luxury resort in Wyoming territory while volunteering for the women's vote. She is called home for her mother's upcoming 45th birthday and decides on the way back to Wyoming that she will go to Washington DC to network with other WOC suffragettes. While home, she meets Owen, a carpenter that is building a gazebo as a birthday gift to her mom. Owen also volunteers his time to clandestine organization (the Sons of the Diaspora) that works to maintain and forward the progress of the black male vote, even at the expense of the women's vote. 


I really enjoyed reading Sarah and Owen's story except for the fact that they met because her father's manipulations - dear father wanted Sarah to move back home and be more "traditional". Screw that, I liked Sarah the way she was and in the end Owen did to which is why they continued to court through letters and trips to see each other after she returned to Wyoming. Plus, after they got engaged, they decided to leave Fayetteville and Wyoming and make their home in a place that offered both of them opportunity for employment and to continue their volunteer work. I also loved that I got to see Sarah and Will together with their new daughter.


In both Drifting to You and A Radiant Soul, Alexander explored the lives of African-Americans during the Reconstruction/Gilded Age by the characters' back stories; Rosaline and Will were former slaves, Owen grew up the child and grandchild of escaped slaves that hid in the Great Dismal Swamp until after the Civil War, and Sarah grew up freed. There is a lot of great history within these romances and a great way to discover parts of history that don't get told in classrooms. 


*This story was originally published in Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology.*

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review 2018-06-14 21:48
Drifting to You by Kianna Alexander
Drifting to You: Cape Fear Shipworks - Kianna Alexander

A great historical romance novella set in Fayetteville, NC. The heroine (Rosaline) is working as a baker with dreams of owning her own storefront; she has the opportunity to meet wealthy clients and get a fat profit by baking and serving a cake for the Goodman family when they set sail on their new pleasure boat. The hero (Will) is the shipbuilder who has been having his eye on courting Rosaline and thinks the cruise down the Cape Fear River is the perfect time to ask for her consent to his courting. 


There is a lot to their individual back stories, namely that both Rosaline and Will were former slaves and they learned their trade prior to being free. I liked both as individuals and as a couple. Will accepted Rosaline's medical condition and didn't make a big deal out of creating a family with her through other means. A sweet but not cloying romance.



*This story was originally published in The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance anthology*

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text 2018-05-30 22:25
May 2018 Reading Wrap Up
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 - Adam Hochschild
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer - Michelle McNamara,Patton Oswalt,Gillian Flynn
The Case of the Missing Cross - Felicia Rogers
Alejandro's Sorceress: A Cardinal Witches Novella (The Cardinal Witches Book 1) - Alyssa Day
He's So Fine - Jill Shalvis

Bout of Books 22 jolted my reading and my NOOK is feeling lighter. Worked my way through some series and knocked out one WWI reading list book. I challenged myself to read 100 pages a day from Memorial Day to Labor Day (99 days if my math works); so far, so good. 


One week to the start of COYER Big Summer Birthday Bash (June 9th) and my base library's Summer Reading Program starts the 19th, but reading from the first of the month counts. 



BL/GR: 61 / 75

Pop Sugar: 3/50

BoB 22: 12; 607 pages read

SBTB GR Quarterly Challenge: 15/15 prompts filled a month before the challenge ends!



1. The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3) by Tracie Peterson - 3 stars

2. Harmony Cabins (Finding Home #2) by Regina Hart - 3.5 stars

3. When Snow Falls (Whiskey Creek #2) by Brenda Novak - 3.5 stars

4. He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis - 4 stars

5. To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild - 5 stars

6. Serpent's Kiss (The Beauchamp Family #2) by Melissa de la Cruz - 3 stars

7. White Witch (Texas Devlins #0.5) by Lyn Horner - 3 stars

8. Stardust (Circus Macabre #1) by Kristen Strassel - 2.5 stars

9. Katie and the Marshal (Montana Women #1) by Nancy Pirri - 3.5 stars

10. Pride of Africa (Hotel Safari #1) by Tori Knighwood - 1 star

11. Hunter of the Night (Lark Nation #0.5) by Clara Coulson - 3 stars

12. A Bride for Carlton (Sun River Brides #1) by Karla Gracey - 1 star

13. Mail Order Bride Amelia (Silver River Brides #1) by Karla Gracey - 4 stars

14. Valentine's Day at the Star and Sixpence (Star and Sixpence #1.5) by Holly Hepburn - 2 stars

15. Alejandro's Sorceress (Cardinal Witches #1) by Alyssa Day - 4 stars

16. Dialing Dreams (Sweethearts and Jazz #1) by Jessica Eissfeldt - 1 star

17. The Case of the Missing Cross (Justice and Miss Quinn #1) by Felicia Rogers - 4 stars

18. The Locked Room Murder (Bluebell Knopps #1) by Nancy McGovern - 2 stars

 19. I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara - 4 stars


DNF: None this month



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text 2018-05-27 20:45
Incredible read!
Listed: Dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act - Joe Roman

Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act, written by Joe Roman, is one of the most well-argued book that delves into the history and development of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and also clearly listed the successes and drawbacks of this act. In order to completely explain these arguments, the author intricately combines the understandings of different aspects such as earth system science, economics, politics, and conservation in order to provide the most well-rounded and supported evidences about how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) can possibly change and improve their conservation acts to protect endangered species around the world at this period of time when climate change is increasingly concerned. In the book, Roman clearly states his focus on two main issues: how species are protected and what more needs to be done for the sake of the biodiversity, and the conflict between conservation and economics, suggesting that conservation can have positive effects on human population.


The author begins the book with a general and simple introduction about the history of ESA, specifying the laws and the conditions of the act toward animals that are listed as endangered. Through that, Roman then leads to the argument that Endangered Species Act needs to seriously be rethought about conservation solutions to protect the animals at the level needed to match rates of climate change nowadays. He specifically mentioned about how ESA was first accused of putting animals before humans, as well as the cost humans have to pay for the sake of the animals: “The Endangered Species Act has been accused of encouraging property owners to clear their land of native habitat.” (1). However, by doing this, he emphasizes the importance of ESA for its brave actions to protect threatened species that are hugely influenced by the changes of climate such as global warming. Indeed, he provides an argument that humans need to acknowledge the importance of cooperation with ESA to combat species extinction, since humans are one of the most impactful factors toward the sustainability of the animal habitats and ecosystem. Beside providing the history of the ESA, an environmental law that was initially passed in 1973, Roman later dives deeply into the America's accomplishments in conservation and how important the fact that humans are strongly correlated with other species for the sake of biodiversity is.


At this point of the book, Joe Roman continues his narrative by taking the readers with his exploration to investigate the conditions of a group of species such as spotted owls, red-cockaded woodpeckers, snail darters, frogs, whales, cranes, black-footed ferrets, wolves, cougars, polar bears, and bats. For each of the chapter, he concentrates in one specific species that is successfully protected and preserved, correlating with the accomplishments of ESA so far, such as the revival of the red-cockaded woodpecker in North Carolina, and the success of the conservation process for bald eagle and white tailed deer populations. Furthermore, Joe Roman clearly showed his reasons for his belief in the success of ESA, which is that the ESA is the first act to give nature, in all its forms, the right to exist (Roman 62), and that it was the first act that put nature before people. Diving deeper into the understanding of the relationship between human and species, Roman makes a point that in order to gain social and economic benefits, biodiversity needs to be considerably protected. The diversity in species and natural communities can stabilize an ecosystem, and the loss of any species can crucially upset the balance (Roman 83). As he wrote: "The more species you remove, the greater the chances that an extraordinarily important one will be lost" and "the more species you have, the more ways they make use of limited resources." (Roman 84).


In addition to the first two main focus about the importance and effectiveness of ESA, the author also mentions one of the most controversial issues - climate change, and how it is hugely affecting all species, both in negative and positive ways. In Roman’s list, global warming and habitat destruction are considered as two of the main five causes of extinction, the other three are overexploitation, invasive species, and the spread of disease (Roman 189). By touching on the issue of climate change, he indirectly drives interest and concerns for people about the concept of conservation, and how species can also protect us from the increase of climate change. While he appears to be proud of the accomplishments that the ESA has had, he also showcases the negative implications of this act, such as imposing on property rights and causing property owners to destroy habitats of endangered species (Roman 1).


Overall, Joe Roman takes a variety of perspectives in order to explain his arguments, while also supporting them with statistics. He strongly states his ideas that ESA is indeed doing a good job preserving the biodiversity, but this act needs to be improved in order to catch up with the rate of climate changes and other causes. Throughout the book, Roman emphasizes the importance of biodiversity toward the balance of the planet, as well as how human beings need to be aware of the destructions that are hugely influence the rate of extinction on species. He ends the book with a positive note and ultimate goal, giving the reader ideas for how species extinctions could reach a zero extinction rate. Essentially, Roman argues that this solution will require a fundamental reexamination of human lives and values (Roman 306). This way of ending book alters questions for readers, as well as encouraging people to take actions individually in order to prevent the threat of extinction to any of the species, rather than wait until the end when the issues encounter.


In my opinion, Listed is a well-argued book that emphasizes the importance of species for the balance of the planet, as well as the significant role of the ESA for preservation acts. Roman is extremely clear when stating his arguments, presenting his ideas by using statistics and facts, in which make his stories easy to read and appealing. The fact that he takes multiple perspectives to analyze the accomplishments and drawbacks gives readers fair views about the ESA, helping them to understand his arguments in broader ways with his engaging and clear writing also. In overall, I would recommend this book for people who are interested in the Earth’s system, human impacts on natural habitat and the rate of extinction, and the accomplishments and drawbacks of ESA for the conservation plans.


Works Cited

Roman, Joe. Listed: Dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

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