Friday, January 24, 2014

Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power by Kevin Peraino

Book: Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power
Author: Kevin Peraino
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: From Goodreads:

A captivating look at how Abraham Lincoln evolved into one of our seminal foreign-policy presidents—and helped point the way to America’s rise to world power.
This is the story of one of the most breathtaking feats in the annals of American foreign policy—performed by one of the most unlikely figures. Abraham Lincoln is not often remembered as a great foreign-policy president. He had never traveled overseas and spoke no foreign languages. And yet, during the Civil War, Lincoln and his team skillfully managed to stare down the Continent’s great powers—deftly avoiding European intervention on the side of the Confederacy. In the process, the United States emerged as a world power in its own right.
Engaging, insightful, and highly original, Lincoln in the World is a tale set at the intersection of personal character and national power. The narrative focuses tightly on five distinct, intensely human conflicts that helped define Lincoln’s approach to foreign affairs—from his debate, as a young congressman, with his law partner over the conduct of the Mexican War, to his deadlock with Napoleon III over the French occupation of Mexico. Bursting with colorful characters like Lincoln’s bowie-knife-wielding minister to Russia, Cassius Marcellus Clay; the cunning French empress, EugĂ©nie; and the hapless Mexican monarch Maximilian—Lincoln in the World draws a finely wrought portrait of a president and his team at the dawn of American power. 

My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: A bit dry in places but making me love Lincoln even more. Shows his strengths as a statesman coming from a lack of education and grooming.

Has aspects of it that feel as a fictional read which I loved. Very inviting for the most part. I loved the deeper learning of key people in Lincoln's life, such as Herndon and his cabinet.I think one of the things I found most interesting was how much Mary Todd Lincoln had tried to interject herself into foreign relations. I knew of her "feedback" into national issues, but had not heard of foreign affairs.

May be good for someone who has done some basic studying of Lincoln to have a greater appreciation of this great man.

Well researched and documented.

Source: Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : ALWAYS! It was a great and unique book on the "Lincoln" subject
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

A Bride For Keeps (Unexpected Brides #1) by Melissa Jaegers

Book: A Bride For Keeps (Unexpected Brides #1)
Author: Melissa Jaegers
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Farmer Everett Kline can't keep up with his homestead. Although, he has tried three mail order brides in the past, all of whom rejected him before the marriage, plus, a fiance of his own, he figures he is done. His well meaning neighbor goes behind his back and accepts the offer of Julie Lockwood, who is desperate to escape her father and her former fiance, both of whom have never seen her as anything but a pawn. 

Skittish from her treatment of men, can Julie open up to Everett? Can he get over his skepticism of the beautiful, refined Julie accepting him as a spouse? 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: OK, gotta say...Was this book predictable? Yes. Have I read this book in numerous other storylines? Yep! Could you map the story? Yeah, you could. Did it stop me from loving me this book? Absolutely not!

Ms. Jaegers wove a wonderful, engrossing, heartwarming story that left the reader cheering for the main characters.  I ended up reading it in one sitting.  While this was Christian historical fiction, the book wasn't over weighted down with scripture or a preaching feeling. I absolutely love that in Christian fiction.

I loved another reviewer's comparison to Jeanette Oke's "Love Comes Softly" which is one of my favorite Christian books. I thought that review was relatively dead on.
Source:  Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Yes, it was a sweet read. I will probably read more in the series
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: First in series

The Drowned Man (Chief Inspector Peter Cammon #2)

Book: The Drowned Man (Chief Inspector Peter Cammon #2)
Author: David Whellams
Narrator (if applicable):N/A

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: CI Cammon is sent to retrieve the body of a Scotland Yard detective in Canada. This death is pure murder and Cammon can't resist delving into the mystery behind the death that has to do with the theft of three US Civil War letters, including one signed by John Wilkes Booth. What did the murdered detective uncover? Will Cammon suffer the same fate?
My rating: 3 Stars
My opinion: I liked the unique storyline, but the story had a feeling of being discombobulated, at times, while dry at others. As a result, it took me FOREVER to get through it. I had to take this book out of my library 3 times to get through it after I lost total interest in the publisher's ARC. Had I not committed to review it for the pubisher, I probably would have shelved it.

In preparing for this review, I noticed the same criticisms in the first book in the series. 

Source:  Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Sadly, no. Normally I love British mysteries, but this one just doesn't work for me.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

The Absence of Mercy: A Novel by John Burley

Book:  The Absence of Mercy: A Novel
Author: John Burley
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: How well do you know your neighbors? In the sleepy town of Winterville, OH, it is very clear that the answer is not very well. 

Dr. Ben Stevenson, the town medical examiner, can't believe when he is called in to investigate the murder of a teen boy. A boy well known in town and killed in a brutal way. More brutal than this town would ever expect. When the victims start to pile up, fear takesover.

Is the killer from out of town or one of there own? Does Dr. Stevenson really want the answer to that question or will the answers rip apart his life and the life of this small village where everyone knows one another? 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: I gotta say that I really enjoyed this debut novel. Was some tightening in the writing needed? Yes, to be honest, it was.

On that note, I felt this book was fast paced with some nice twists, as well as some twisted moments, that kept me guessing.  Although I did find Dr. Stevenson's character somewhat annoying and condescending at times, I must say that I loved the capture of small town living and the unique characters.

Source:  Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Already have!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell

Book: The Other Side of Free
Author: Krista Russell
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: From Goodreads:

It is 1739. Young Jem has been rescued from slavery and finds himself at Fort Mose, a settlement in Florida run by the Spanish. He is in the custody of an ornery and damaged woman named Phaedra, who dictates his every move. When Jem sets out to break free of her will, an adventure begins in which Jem saves a baby owl, a pair of runaway slaves, and, eventually, maybe all the residents of Fort Mose.
While Jem and the other characters are fictitious, the story is based on historical record. Fort Mose was the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. In 1994 the site was designated a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, the National Park Service named Fort Mose a precursor site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. 

My rating: 3.5 Stars
My opinion: I felt this was a good storyline, but a tad difficult to follow and slow paced.  On that note, THE HISTORY IN THIS BOOK WAS UNBELIEVABLE! It contained very little known facts about the history of the United States wrapped up in an interesting storyline.  

I found I really wasn't connected as much as I wanted to be to the main character, Jem, which was really sad to me. I just felt all of the characters could have been developed much more strongly than they were.

On a final note, I thought it was written for a tad older than the audience it was marketed for. Some of the writing and phrases might be too old for a middle school reader to grasp.

Source: Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Yes, to an older audience though.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone