Thursday, April 27, 2017

Washington’s Farewell by John Avlon

Title: Washington’s Farewell
Author: John Avlon
Read by: John Avlon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 4 minutes
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Digital Review Copy – Thank-you!

George Washington set a precedent when he decided not to run for a third term of office.  He wanted to show the world he was not a monarch in power for his entire life as well as what a peaceful transfer of power looked like.  When he decided to step down, he also decided he wanted to write a farewell address for the American people that would be printed in papers across the nation so that the average citizen could read his thoughts and guidance for what the country should do to be a successful democracy.

In Washington’s Farewell, Jon Avlon writes of how Washington shaped the farewell with his ideas, but also with help from other founding fathers including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.  He focused on a lot of issues, but mainly on avoiding hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.  Washington was our only president who didn’t belong to a party and tried to stay above the fray of the party bickering to make sure the country ran well and for the best of the citizens.  He was afraid that the two party system would lead to Americans feeling that other Americans are enemies due to their political affiliation and that it could lead to a rise of a demagogue.  It’s very interesting to read this in our current political atmosphere.

I also enjoyed that Washington’s Farewell included biographical information about Washington himself.  I’ve always found his life to be fascinating and want to know more.  There were new details I didn’t remember learning before such as the fact that Martha Washington was not happy about Washington being president and did not attend his inauguration.

The later part of the book included how Washington’s Farewell address has been used by the Presidents who followed him and how they have adapted it and learned from it.  It’s interesting how the presidency changes people once they assume the office.

The book ended with the reading of Washington’s Farewell address in its entirety which I found very interesting.  I don’t believe I’ve ever read or heard the Farewell address which is sad.  Especially as this was once a required document like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that everyone read.  I think it should be brought back to the classroom!

I enjoyed that the author referenced Hamilton the musical and even interviewed Lin Manual for the book.  It made me listen again to the musical with a fresh eye on Hamilton’s involvement in the creation of Washington’s Farewell address.

The author, Jon Avlon, narrated this book himself which I enjoyed.  It was a captivating account of history to entertain me on my daily commute.

Overall, Washington’s Farewell is a fascinating look into an important document that includes words of wisdom from our founding father that are relevant to our current times.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell is one of my favorite authors.  Her books are always about communities and how our stories are often interwoven with those in our community whether we know it or not.  This story is about the town of St. Carys and their intertwining stories.  Jill Mansell’s characters are matchless.  They are immensely relatable and wonderfully developed.  I feel like I could slip into St. Carys and become friends with them all.

Clemency is late for a plane through a simple mistake.  She is sure her seat mate is annoyed at her and ignoring her, but after they start talking, they realize they have a connection.  Clemency gives him her business card, but discovers he is married and doesn’t see him again for years . . . until he shows up on the arm of her stepsister Belle.  

Belle and Clemency have a completed relationship.  Their parents married when they were teenagers.  Clemency and her mother were poor while Belle and her father were rich.  

 Misunderstandings and relationship woes have happened in the past and Clemency just wants to get along with Belle.  Willing to help her out is her work friend Ronan, who Belle has always had a crush on.  Ronan has relationship woes of his own compounded on the fact that he would really like to look for his birth mother, but doesn’t want to hurt his adopted mother’s feelings.  And there is more . . . 

I love all of the characters and the storylines that go with them.  They are all tied up nicely at the end too so you aren’t left wondering what happened to your favorite side character.  I read through this book too quickly as I now find myself wishing I could read more about Beachcomber Bay and it’s in habitants.

My favorite quotes:

 “When he’d gone out on the evening of this twenty-fifth birthday, Sam had never intended to meet the love of his life.”

“And Marina, thinking What am I like?, discovered she was so British she was incapable of refusing the command and found herself submitting to a hug from the ex-husband she hadn’t seen for over five years.”

“The physical contact with her baby boy, which she’d longed for but been unable to allow herself to experience until now, was like nothing she’d ever felt before.  Never had she felt so happy, so complete.”

Overall, Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay is a delightful novel full of interesting and well-rounded characters.  The setting in St. Carys makes the story complete and really makes me want to visit someday.  I loved this book!

Book Source:  Review E-Book Copy from Sourcebooks.  Thank-you!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

My eight-year old son Daniel is on a Harry Potter kick and got The Tales of Beedle the Bard from his book order.  I had never read it before.   I love the Harry Potter series but I never read any of the other side books J.K. Rowling wrote for charity.  

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is introduced as a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches, think the wizarding version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  This collection has a note on each story and its significance at the end by Professor Dumbledore.  One bad thing in the collection is that Daniel is on book five (and looks like he is stopping for now as he said the books are getting a little beyond him for reading, maybe next year he’ll finish up) and didn’t know what the future had in store for Professor Dumbledore, but the introduction of this book lets you know.  Beware!

There are five tales in this collection and I found them all to be delightful and Daniel enjoyed them too.  I love fairy tales and I loved that these stories seemed like an old tale that you had discovered that had been written for the magical community.  I just wish there were more in the collection!

Overall, this is a good addition to the world of Harry Potter and something that any lover of fairy tales would love.  Just beware that the introduction includes information that will spoiler the young reader if they haven’t read the entire Harry Potter series yet.

Book Source:  Purchased from the Scholastic Book Order