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Archive for May, 2009

Well readers, I have sacrificed my time to read this book so that you don’t have to.  Seth Grahame-Smith, to his credit, has very seamlessly managed to work a sub-plot involving man-eating, undead zombies into the original Jane Austen story surrounding the social antics of the Bennet family and their community.  However, aside from a silly sort of humor, the zombies don’t, in my opinion, really add anything of real value to the original storyline.  It is, perhaps, a case of unfair bias on my part, as Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite authors, and it is hard to improve on near perfection.  However, I realize that Mr. Grahame-Smith isn’t really trying to improve on Austen.   In giving him the benefit of the doubt, I can see how this version, which still contains approximately 80 percent of the original Austen prose, might attract an audience which might not otherwise be inclined to read a work by Jane Austen.  So, in that regard, I get it.  And it was, at times, funny.  However, in the end, upon finishing the book, the characters I missed most were the living ones and not the unfortunate undead.  So, ultimately, unless you have a sort of perverse sense of humor, I would advise readers to stick with the real thing.  Unless, of course, you have an 11 year old boy whom you really want to read Jane Austen.  In that case, this book might be just the ticket.

I give this book 3 out of 5 bookmarks.

Reviewed by:   Anna

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I genuinely enjoyed this book,  and for many reasons.  I love a good biography.  Learning about real people, especially those who are so interesting and enjoyable, is always fun for me.  Also, I love  history, particularly American history, and this book is full of interesting information about nearly a century of American history and politics. 

The subject of this book, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, was the eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, who dies just days after Alice’s birth, and also within days of her mother-in-law,  Teddy’s beloved mother.   With two such devastating losses  suffered at the same time, T.R., as he is called in the book, essentially checks out of fatherhood and allows his sister to begin to raise Alice.  Only  after his remarriage, at the insistence of his new wife, does Alice become a part of Teddy’s life.  Although present is reality, T.R. is distant in spirit.  Even with many half-siblings,  Alice finds family life at the White House rather lonely.  With no mother and an absentee father and step-mother, the trouble that the growing Alice gets herself into is inevitable.  Her antics are at once hilarious and heart-breaking.  Finally finding love,  or so she thinks, Alice eventually marries Congressman Nicholas Longworth and remains interested in politics for the rest of her lift.  It is the only constant in a life otherwise filled with turmoil.  Her husband is less than faithful, but she staunchly supports his political career, largely in the hopes of getting back into the White House.  She eventually settles into a life of comfort, surrounded  by family and friends, and some of the  most powerful and influential people in Washington.  Becoming legendary for her wit, her sharp tongue, and her ability to bring together  the movers and shakers of our nation, Alice herself becomes a force to be reckoned with in Washington.  Her invitations were nearly as sought after as an invite to the White House itself.  She had the ear of politicians and their admiration too.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth was infamous as the first daughter while she was young, and famous in her own right as an adult.  She was colorful, outrageous, brilliant, shy, outspoken, influential.  She was fixture in Washington while she lived and remains one of the most famous presidential children ever.   She witnessed first hand nearly a century of American politics with a front row seat.  Such a figure is rare indeed.  

If you want to know this extraordinary woman and see American politics through her distinct perspective, I highly recommend this book.  I give it 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Reviewed by:  Anna

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This book is a mite intimidating at first glance, just because of it’s size.  However, once I began reading, I realized that there was nothing to fear.  This author has a very easy to read style of writing, and given the interesting subject matter, I was done in no time.  This is a very expansive biography of Lincoln’s political life.  However, I found it a bit slim on the personal front.  If Lincoln the politician is the man you are after, then this is the book for you.  I found it very similar in content to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”, which was also fascinating.  There is definitely more of Lincoln’s early life and personal life in this book than in Goodwin’s, but. to my mind, this book is predominantly a political bio., as I said before.  Although I found it light on personal information, that is not to say that I did not enjoy the book.  I found it to be very well-written, and although it is a sizable book, I read it on my kindle, which made it more convenient.  Having just witnessed a most interesting presidential race and inauguration, I found this book particularly interesting to read, at this time in our history.  The passion and intelligence of Abraham Lincoln are most inspiring, and after reading this book, I found a renewed sense of admiration for him.  I truly believe he was our greatest president.  Read this book and be inspired.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookmarks.  

Reviewed by:  Anna

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