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Thursday, August 31, 2017

#CoverCrush: The Woman Next Door


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


A gorgeous back yard patio. A table set for two. Who will be dining? Are they friends or family? The title would suggest that they perhaps are neighbors. Who is the woman next door and what is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.

Friday, August 25, 2017

5 Books I Want to Read...Behind-the-Scene with the President

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2754. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

This month several books about presidents popped up in my Goodreads browsing. I'm not normally one for politics, but I've managed to accumulate a list of Presidential/White House-related books about what happens behind the scenes during elections and in the White House.

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The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history's favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.

Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the White House Chiefs of Staff, whose actions--and inactions--have defined the course of our country.

What do Dick Cheney and Rahm Emanuel have in common? Aside from polarizing personalities, both served as chief of staff to the president of the United States--as did Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and a relative handful of others. The chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," wield tremendous power in Washington and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push POTUS's agenda, and--most crucially--enjoy unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks.

Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker's expert managing of the White House, the press, and Capitol Hill paved the way for the Reagan Revolution--and, conversely, how Watergate, the Iraq War, and even the bungled Obamacare rollout might have been prevented by a more effective chief.

Filled with shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details, The Gatekeepers offers an essential portrait of the toughest job in Washington.

Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin

A rare and fascinating portrait of the American presidency from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history intimately and vividly to life as he reflects on his seventeen years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford, seeing them through a long, tumultuous era—the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard M. Nixon.

Some of his stunning, never-before-revealed anecdotes include:
- Eisenhower’s reaction at Russian Prime Minister Khrushchev’s refusal to talk following the U-2 incident
- The torture of watching himself in the Zapruder film in a Secret Service training
- Johnson’s virtual imprisonment in the White House during violent anti-Vietnam protests
- His decision to place White House files under protection after a midnight phone call about Watergate
- The challenges of protecting Ford after he pardoned Nixon

With a unique insider’s perspective, Hill sheds new light on the character and personality of these five presidents, revealing their humanity in the face of grave decisions.

The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign by Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie

A behind-the-scenes, revelatory account of John F. Kennedy’s wily campaign to the White House, beginning with his bold, failed attempt to win the vice presidential nomination in 1956. A young and undistinguished junior plots his way to the presidency and changes the way we nominate and elect presidents.

John F. Kennedy and his young warriors invented modern presidential politics. They turned over accepted wisdom that his Catholicism was a barrier to winning an election and plotted a successful course to that constituency. They hired Louis Harris—a polling entrepreneur—to become the first presidential pollster. They twisted arms and they charmed. They lined up party bosses, young enthusiasts, and fellow Catholics and turned the traditional party inside out. The last-minute invitation to Lyndon B. Johnson for vice president in 1956 surprised them only because they had failed to notice that he wanted it. They invented The Missile Gap in the Cold War and out-glamoured Richard Nixon in the TV debates.

Now acclaimed, award-winning journalists Tom Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie provide the most comprehensive account, based on a depth of personal reporting, interviews, and archives. The authors have examined more than 1,600 oral histories at the John F. Kennedy library; they’ve interviewed surviving sources, including JFK’s sister Jean Smith, and they draw on their own interviews with insiders including Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

From the start of the campaign in 1955 when his father tried to persuade President Johnson to run with JFK as his running mate, The Road to Camelot reveals him as a tough, shrewd political strategist who kept his eye on the prize. This is one of the great campaign stories of all time, appropriate for today’s political climate.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco and Lauren Oyler

If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this...

Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade, and long before his run for president. From the then-senator's early days in Congress to his years in the Oval Office, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders.

But for every historic occasion--meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm--there were dozens of less-than-perfect moments when it was up to Alyssa to save the day. Like the time she learned the hard way that there aren't nearly enough bathrooms at the Vatican.

Full of hilarious, never-before-told stories, Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? is an intimate portrait of a president, a book about how to get stuff done, and the story of how one woman challenged, again and again, what a "White House official" is supposed to look like. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon).

Told in a smart, original voice and topped off with a couple of really good cat stories, Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? is a promising debut from a savvy political star.

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary and A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

#CoverCrush: We Were the Lucky Ones


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


Black and white covers are some of my favorites. Without colors to distract, sometimes we see photographs differently. Here, two people sit on chairs in the middle of what is likely a park. Where are they? The photograph has a vintage feel...is it a world war setting somewhere in Europe? They are facing away from the camera--why? Who are they? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Childhood Favorites...The Boxcar Children

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

I loved the library when I was little. I probably have mentioned that before...

I'd check out my favorite stories over and over and The Boxcar Children were among those stories. And while I read many of the books in the series, my very favorite was the first one.


I loved the story of the orphan children running from the mean people. Henry buying bread and them all sharing it. Finding the abandoned boxcar and making it a home. And then discovering their grandfather and that he loved them. One of my favorite parts was how after the children came to live with him, he brought the boxcar to his house for them.

The Boxcar Children is a book about resourcefulness. About family sticking together no matter what and brothers and sisters caring and looking out for one another. When I discovered it as a 10 year old, it resonated with me.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

#CoverCrush: A Hundred Small Lessons


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


I loved the colors in this cover. The purple flowers with the light passing through. So striking.

A woman, walking down a tree-lined lane, accompanied by two young children. She is walking towards light, but is that leaving or arriving? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills & Vellum.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

#CoverCrush: The Wish Child


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


War time. Bombed out buildings. Rubble. Chaos. Destruction. And two children, sitting together. Drawing strength from one another. The boy, looking after the girl. Are they siblings? Friends? The muted colors and styling suggest World War 2. Is the war just beginning or is it finally over? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills & Vellum.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

#CoverCrush: The Paris Secret


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


It's Paris. Paris will always have my heart. I loved it there. Some day I wll go back. I have stood where that woman is standing. The colors are muted, suggesting sunset or perhaps sunrise. Why Paris? Is she French? Is she visiting? What is her story? 

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills &Vellum.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I found that I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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Cold River by Liz Adair
3/5 Stars
12/2011

"Cold River was an entertaining read, but something was just missing for me and I had a hard time taking the premise seriously. I liked it, I didn't love it. There are some great, quirky characters, but I would have liked to see more depth and back story. Liz Adair has created some terrific characters and they deserved to have more fleshed out details in their stories.

I haven't read Liz Adair before, but I would definitely read more of her books in the future. Even with my frustrations with the story, this is a light, entertaining, wholesome read and a nice diversion and one I can easily recommend."

I remember nothing about this book!

A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler
12/2011
1/5 Stars

"I really don't like first person and I really don't like first person present tense. I know there are some who think it more dramatic or real, but it annoys me. I can often look past it, but not here. Part of that, too, was that I just couldn't find a reason to keep reading. I didn't like Samantha, I couldn't believe her relationship with Carson. There was nothing in this story that compelled me to keep reading. Fans of Alice J. Wisler will love it, but it wasn't for me. This is the second of her books that I've tried to read and I think it will be the last. There are authors you connect with and authors you don't and this is one that just doesn't work for me. "

No memory of this one, but if it was a first person present tense narrative, I am pretty much guaranteed to not like it.

Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls by Karl Friedrich
3/5 Stars
12/2011

"While historically, this is a very rich novel, it's not a particularly happy story. Sally's life is hard and it never gets easier, although she's tough and plucky and manages to overcome obstacles and adversity. She meets an a assortment of young women in the WASP program, all of whom have their own secrets and reasons for joining up. Their collective story is fascinating. Moderate profanity and innuendo is noted.

I think Karl Friedrich has done a terrific job of portraying a time in our history that was difficult for all: those who went to war and those who were left behind. Women rose to the occasion and took on many jobs that until the war came, had been male only jobs, including flying military jets. I'm appalled at the treatment these women received at the hand of our government and I'm proud of them for the pathway they paved for future women."

I wish I could remember this book. I love stories about strong women.

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What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?