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review 2018-01-17 21:26
Ambition and Destiny
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution - Nathaniel Philbrick

The war for Independence has long been glorified in our history books. However, Nathaniel Philbrick looks through the layers and brings us a untarnished view on the history of the war.

George Washington and Benedict Arnold were two men that became legend during the war. While the war raged on, the two men could not have been more different. Washington worried about the army as the whole and suffered from indecision. Arnold thought of himself and what he could gain from the war. Two men who had greatness before them, but who could not have been more different in their mindsets and goals.
Benedict Arnold became one of the greatest traitors in the history of the United States, and his defection could have demoralized the entire army. However, Washington had been turning the war around, and those who had once been detractors of the Commander in Chief were realizing that he was the only one who could effectively lead the army. Arnold wanted to enrich himself, and come out of the war as a hero, but his actions can speak to anything but. Instead of working toward the betterment of his country, he became a turncoat, and began to work with the enemy, with the urging of his second wife, Peggy.

This is one of the best books on the American Revolution that I have read. While Benedict Arnold and George Washington are the two main characters, there is so much more present. The highs and lows, the good and the bad are all played out on the pages, and no one is spared. From the Continental Congress, to the French allies - every leaf is overturned to give a comprehensive view and greater understanding of what lead to the defection of Benedict Arnold.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the war, and the men who's names have become entwined in history.

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text 2018-01-11 02:26
Tapping out a third of the way through
Modernity Britain: 1957-1962 - David Kynaston

That I'm moving this to my "DNF" pile isn't a knock on the book; it's every bit as evocative and illuminating as his previous three volumes (even if he dwells a lot on housing). But deadlines are starting to appear and I just don't have the commitment to finish the hundreds of pages still ahead of me,

 

I'm kicking myself for not starting this last month. I decided to read it after watching season 2 of The Crown (which covers almost exactly the same number of years as this book), and i definitely would have had the momentum then to finish it quickly. Now it will await finishing on a later date -- and reside on my "to read" shelf until then (grr).

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review 2018-01-09 14:42
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord - Sarah MacLean

Title:  Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord

Author:  Sarah MacLean

Genre: Historical Romance

Year Published: 2010

Number of Pages: 357 pages

Date Read: 4/15/2011

Series: Love By Numbers #2

Publisher: Avon 

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 18+ (Sex Scenes)

 

 

Ten

After reading the first book in Sarah MacLean's “Love By Numbers” series, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake I was practically dying to read the sequel “Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord.” Unfortunately, this novel did not seem to capture my attention like Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and I have often found myself trying to finish this book as quickly as I can.

Ever since Nicholas St. John was named “London's Lord to Land” in a ladies' magazine, he has been avoiding all the women in London. However, when the Duke of Leighton told Nick about his missing sister, Nick was glad to take this opportunity to escape! However, when Nick comes to the secretive Townsend Park, home of Minerva House, he finds the daughter of the late wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend and he realizes that she is no ordinary woman! But will both lovers ever truly love each other once their dark secrets are revealed?

There were a few good things that I did like about this book. I really loved the love scenes and the hero and heroine! Sarah MacLean had done an awesome job at making Nick the all-time, sexy and ever handsome hero! Whew! I just loved how Nick was willing to help out Isabel and the girls of Minerva House with their financial troubles and I just adored Nick for being honest with his feelings about Isabel. But, not only do I love Nick's personality, but his physical appearance is like the body of a god! I loved how Sarah MacLean described his body as being large and muscular, which are two things I love about my romance heroes! Now about Isabel, I loved the fact that Isabel is such a strong heroine and I loved the way that she stood up to any kind of authority that threatened to tear her apart from the girls of Minerva House. But, probably the best part about this novel were the love scenes between Isabel and Nick! I mean, this book is littered with love scenes galore and man, these scenes are hot and sizzling!

Now, here are some reasons why I gave this book a three star rating. For one thing, I often get annoyed with the heroine, Isabel, since she has some major trust issues to work through. I know that Isabel is scared to trust men because of what her father did to her mother and I do understand what she is going through, but still, I think that she could have at least put a little trust in Nick. I also felt sorry for Nick throughout the book because it is evident that he truly does love Isabel, but Isabel always seem to push him away from her no matter what Nick does to earn her love and it got so irritating after awhile. Also, I thought that this book was a little boring at times because the plot seem to slow down in many scenes and there are barely any action scenes in this book, so it was sometimes hard for me to get through this book without a bit of action.

Overall, this book is an average read for me. Even though “Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord” has some really cute scenes between Nick and Isabel, I just wished that Isabel was a little more trusting of Nick and I wished that there were more action scenes to keep my attention to the plot. Even though this is not my favorite book out of the series, I cannot wait to read the third book, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2018-01-02 01:06
A Funeral for an Owl - Jane Davis

Using a novel to highlight invisible social issues, such as runaway teenagers, taking flight as a consequence of factors such as domestic violence, gang culture and parental rejection is a tricky business. For example, who knew “one in ten run away from home before they reach the age of sixteen, a massive 100,000 every year”? It’s a fairly damning statistic, which says much about British society and an apparent incapacity to protect vulnerable young people. Moreover, “two thirds of children who run away are not reported to the police.” Still, against this rather bleak backdrop, Jane Davis has constructed a subtle plot, which does far more than merely generate pathos. Indeed, JD has also sought to establish that this is not a problem solely besetting some poverty-stricken underclass, but rather an issue that crosses mundane social boundaries and ‘runaways’ might therefore be seen as victims of an extreme degree of family separation.


‘A Funeral for an Owl’ centres on history teacher, Jim Stevens, who works at an inner city high school, but originates from the nearby council estate and though the vagaries of social mobility have enabled Jim to move literally to the other side of the railway tracks, he has not strayed far from his roots. When a violent incident at school sees Jim hospitalised, colleague (‘Ayisha’) is drawn into the clandestine support he has been providing to one of his pupils (‘Shamayal’) and Ayisha’s own integrity, in the face of strict policies and procedures, is challenged.


Ayisha has benefitted from a stable family upbringing and though struggling with the expectations of a distant and demanding mother, she has little insight into the profound hardships experienced by some of her disadvantaged pupils, away from school. And so, while Jim languishes in a hospital bed, the story alternates between examining Jim’s past experience, which culminated in his being stabbed and the very pressing present, which finds Ayisha discovering that doing the ‘right thing’ can take courage and a sense of bewildering isolation.


In spite of his inner city upbringing, ten year-old Jim is into birdwatching and this egregious pastime enables the boy to connect with the troubled Aimee White. Two years his senior, Aimee is destined to attend the all-girls school designated by her wealthy parents, but for the intervening six weeks of the summer holidays, the pair fashion a poignant relationship, which bridges their respective worlds. Almost spookily prescient, Aimee observes that “Indian tribes believe owls carry the souls of living people and that, if an owl is killed, the person whose soul they’re carrying will also die.”


Later, the geekiness of Jim’s birdwatching also captures Shamayal’s imagination and there is symmetry too, in Jim’s burgeoning relationship with Ayisha.


However, what stood out most for me in this book was the crafted writing, in which JD changes gear so smoothly that the journey was simply a pleasure and over all too quickly. The plot was deceptively simple and yet the characterization of the protagonists was insightful and interesting (I especially enjoyed ‘Bins’ the estate eccentric, who is curiously invisible) and made the story eminently plausible and readable. Clearly the book is not targeted solely at young adults and as with a lot of good fiction, the food-for-thought it provides is rightly taxing. As a social worker myself, it would be easy to criticize the rather neat conclusion, which perhaps sanitizes the ‘messiness’ that attends typical family life, but that would be churlish and miss the point. The adage that ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ is at the heart of this book and we all need to do our bit…

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review 2017-12-31 19:59
Review of The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill
The Birth of Britain: A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Volume I (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) - Winston Churchill,Michael Frassetto

I was not sure what to expect with this, but I really enjoyed this book.  Churchill writes descriptively, clearly, and with unique personality.  The historical stories were well told, and he took a time period that could be a bit dry (at least for me) and made it interesting.  There were a few times when there were a few too many names for me to follow - medieval England is not a strong area in terms of my history knowledge - but it helped me learn a great deal.  Highly recommended and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

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