President Lincoln: The Nerd President.

This week I finished listening to the Biography of Abraham Lincoln by David Herbert Donald.

I mentioned in my WWW Wednesday post last week, that while being super into history, I don’t know all that much about the Civil War and President Lincoln. I mean, I know the basics, the big battles, the Gettysburg Address, the assassination, but I didn’t know much else.

This book was really good. I have read a couple different biographies of famous political people, and this one is pretty par for the course of what I’ve read, but what I really loved about this one is that it didn’t talk too much about the other people around Lincoln, it focused on the President.

For example, in the Alexander Hamilton biography, there were large pieces about Aaron Burr, a half chapter each about Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, a bit about Eliza’s family, and Hamilton’s father. This book focused almost entirely on Lincoln. It doesn’t focus much on Mary Todd Lincoln, or his parents, it’s all about Lincoln, which I loved. It was 30 hours of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln reminded me a lot of my dad. My dad is also from the Midwest, and also tells super random stories. Lincoln had a very dry sense of humor that many people in Washington didn’t get. Lincoln came across to me as just a Midwestern man who said amazingly Midwestern things and loved his family. He was awkward and weird and loved to read and greatly enjoyed being a lawyer. He worked hard and tried to keep to himself, for the most part, but that’s a little hard when you’re six foot four and like to wear top hats, you stand out a little.

Lincoln was a strange man, but also a person who struggled with what we, over a hundred years later, would recognize very quickly as anxiety and depression. He while engaged to Mary Todd, he wrote her a letter breaking up with her because he got nervous and felt that she would never be happy with him. This sent both of them into deep sadness, and depression, but it worked out in the end. Mary Todd, what little I learned about her through this book, was the perfect counterpart to the weird, nerdy, Abrabram.

This couple lost two children at a very young age, Eddie (at age 3 in 1850) and Willy (at age 12 in 1862). Willy while they were in the White House. Although it was not mentioned in the book, after President Lincoln died, Mary lost another child, Tad, when he was 18 in 1871 after the assassination. Only Robert lived to be an Adult.

Tad, by the way, was probably my favorite character in the book. He had a pet goat named Nanny that basically ruled the White House. He was just a kid and silly and enjoyed himself.

Robert Todd Lincoln, oddly enough, I know a bit about. Robert Todd Lincoln attended a prestigious private school in New Hampshire near where I live, Phillips Exeter Academy.  The Academy is a huge part of that town, which is the town my grandmother lived in most of my life. Phillips Exeter students are known for running in front of cars while going to different buildings on campus because “the streets are our corridors.” They also make giant messes of the all the retail stores they go to in groups and are a general nuisance. I’m sure they weren’t like that in 1860, although if they were, my opinion of Robert Todd Lincoln changes dramatically. Anyway, Robert Todd Lincoln read the Declaration of Independence at a park near the school, and there is a rock monument. If you know where this rock is at Stratham Hill Park, which is half way up a very very steep hill in the middle of the woods, you remember it.

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Because I enjoy conspiracies, I also know that Robert Todd Lincoln was near two other assassinated Presidents: Garfield and McKinley. He wasn’t, like, there, I don’t even think he was in Ford’s theater, but he had either just met or was planning to met the other two Presidents shortly before they died. And that’s weird.

Lincoln didn’t really want to be President, he wanted to be a Senator, but through a series of unfortunate events, he wound up in the White House. An accidental President who ended up being one of the greatest and most influential men in the history of our country.

As one would imagine, quite a bit of the book is the Civil War. Little is about battles, but more on Lincoln’s thoughts how he tried to fight a war that seemed like it would never end. How the accidental president struggled with future of the country and how to deal with the end of slavery. It discusses Lincoln struggling with the group of men he chose as his cabinet, very few of whom actually got along or similar political beliefs. It was interesting, he had high hopes when he took office that having the different opinions would help guide him since he was unfamiliar with war and strategy.

John Wilkes Booth is discussed twice. The first, which was my favorite part of the whole book, because it was hilarious, was in a section about 3/4 of the way through where the book is discussing the ways that Lincoln relaxed during while the War was winding down. He loved going to the theater, and the narrator starts listing the actors in the different plays Lincoln enjoyed. At the end of that list, in a voice much more dramatic than was necessary, he said “John Wilkes Booth.” It felt as if there should be the classic DUN DUN DUN! Music after he said it. It was great. The second time was in the second half of the last chapter, a very quick background of the assassin was given. His father’s name was Julius Brutus Booth, which I think should be discussed at length– because wow. John Booth was apparently an amazing Shakespearean actor and quite the Hamlet. He also did this cool thing during some plays where he jumped 12 feet from one of the balconies and was an excellent acrobatic actor.

I was expecting the book to have a little bit of an epilogue, like the Hamilton biography. A short chapter that tells us, the reader, what happened to everyone else. However, the book ends when Lincoln does. If I want to know more about Mary Todd Lincoln (which I do) I have to look it up on my own. At the start of the book, it is stated that this book is about Abraham Lincoln, and it was very true to that message.

If you enjoy biographies, this is one to add to your TBR. It is well researched, and I greatly enjoyed the narration. The voice was a little bit like the voice that does the voice over on the old TV show The Waltons. It’s not that guy, but to me the voices are similar. It’s a good reading voice– calming.

I recommend this biography highly. It’s not war or battle heavy, it’s the story of a man. A very tall, weird, nerdy, man who ended up being the President of the United States (or really the un-united states) on accident.

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

 

 

One Lovely Blogger Award

Hello! I’ve been nominated by the wonderful Max at Maxxesbooktopia to be a part of the one lovely blogger award. Thank you very much, Max, for the tag!

And away we go!

 

 

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Post about the award.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate (up to) 15 people.
  • Let your nominees know you’ve nominated them.

Seven Facts about Me

1. I really love baking. I am a cupcake person. In my head, I have a cupcake company called Wheelwright’s Cupcakes. It’s called that because if this John Irving novel A Prayer for Owen Meany that I love. I make cupcakes for my friends’ children’s birthdays, wedding showers, and possibly baby showers. I have also made a great deal of money for charity by making my French Toast and Bacon cupcakes for bake sales at one of my previous jobs.

2. I am a 5th-year GisHwhEs veteran. I will be participating in my 5th hunt in August with my wonderful team: Team Banana Ninjas. This year I am a co-captain. I’m excited and nervous about the extra part of the hunt, but I know I have a great team. Believe me, you will be hearing all about it when the time comes.

3. I had a Beta Fish in college named Brisco, after Detective Lenny Brisco from Law and Order, that lived from the second week of Freshmen year until the day that all the underclassmen left my senior year. This is despite the fact that I was a terrible fish parent.

4. I could take 4th President of the United States, James Madison in a fight. Like if I ever time travel, I could beat him up. I mean, like, he enjoyed dueling with guns, probably because he was five foot four and 98 pounds. But if we dueled with fists, I would win.

5. I really love Batman.

6. I love doing research, and probably spend a lot too much time researching unimportant things that will probably never come up in regular conversation (see fact number 4).  On the other hand, I know a lot about Edgar Allan Poe and the travel schedule of the Marque de Lafayette when he returned to the United States in 1826.

7. I volunteer for the Harry Potter Alliance. This hasn’t come up on my blog yet, but I’m sure I’ll write a post about how great it is at some point. I really enjoy the work I do there and meeting and working with the rest of the crew. It’s been fun promoting change through fandom. I’m always busy with cool new things there.

I am not nominating anyone, however, if you would like to do this, and have not been tagged, consider this me tagging you.

Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

The Details

Publisher: Amulet Books
Published:  May 1st, 2011
Genres:  YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBT+, Mystery
My Rating: 5 Stars

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When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

My Review

This is a book about being “different” in a small town. It’s a story about what being gay in a small town with deep-seated bigotry is like. This book is raw and heartbreaking. What happens to Patrick, the best friend of the main character is terrible, and it’s doubly terrible because it doesn’t take place now, and we still see things like what happened to  Patrick happening. I’m a little older than the average YA reader (well, the intended audience of a YA reader), so I remember seeing what happened to Matthew Sheppard on the news and watching those Dateline stories. What happened to Patrick is very close to what happened there, and it’s terrifying to think that things like that still happen.

Shine doesn’t glamourize southern-ness if that makes sense. It doesn’t paint a picture of the whitewashed, clean, version I think comes to mind when people think of the south. It’s not big houses and old ladies sitting on porch swings drinking sweet tea. It’s dirty and shows that there are terrible things happening.

This book was hard to read because of how raw and emotional it was as Cat tries so hard to figure out how and why this happened to Patrick since it seems like no one else cares. In order for her to do that, she has to go into herself and learn to be honest with herself and speak up for herself in ways she never thought she could. There are a lot of things that could trigger people within it.

Cat is something. Cat is a great character. The importance of being true to yourself and speaking the truth even when it’s hard or scary or has consequences is developed throughout the whole book.

I found this book amazing, and I highly recommend it. I would recommend that anyone looking to read it, look into the trigger warnings, there is sexual assault, homophobia, and a bunch of other topics that I know make some things extremely hard, or impossible to read. However, this book is great. Myracle did something wonderful with this book and her characters. I have never read a book like it, and I doubt I ever will again.

 

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

Personal note: I know I’ve been lacking a little with my blogging. Late May and Early June are difficult times for me, which if you’ve been following my posts I’m sure you caught. I will be falling back into my regular blogging schedule this week.  Thank you for following my blog and liking and commenting. Happy Reading!

WWWWednesay #8

WWW Wednesday is a meme currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s very simple – answer the three questions and leave a link in Sam’s post.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

The last couple weeks have not been the easiest couple of weeks for me. So I haven’t done the reading that I wanted to accomplish, but img_5328

 
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I am currently reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I started it yesterday, and I am so far in love. Scarlett just got to the Island, so I haven’t gotten to the meat of the story, but so far I find the characters interesting and the lore of the story is pretty cool. I’m excited to read the rest of it.  I have been looking forward to reading this since I started blogging and saw so many fellow bloggers raving about it. So far it’s living up to the hype. A review will be coming on a Monday in the near future.

 
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I am also still listening to Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. I’ll have this finished by the end of the week, there are about 4 hours left. I plan on writing my long Thursday post on this book next week. I didn’t know all that much about the Civil War, being more into the history of Massachusetts’s involvement in the Revolution as my history obsession. I have found learning about Abraham Lincoln as a person very interesting. He seems like he would be a cool guy to hang out with, and may be the only other adult in American politics besides George Washinton.

 

What have I Recently Finished Reading?

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I finished Untold over the weekend. This series is a different take on the classic Gothic stories with a YA twist. I have found that if I read the dialogue with a British accent in my head, it feels less odd and flows better. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first one, but I still liked it. I will be reading the third book in this series soon, but I have a couple books I want to read for the blog first. I am interested to see what’s coming for Kami and her crew.

 

What do I plan on reading next?

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Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray was the Uppercase book for April, and because I had such a terrible reading month of May I haven’t gotten to it yet. It sounds really good. Goodreads seems to like it. So I am looking forward to it. From reading the blurb and the reviews it seems to be much more Sci-Fi than any books that I’ve read recently, so I am looking forward to that change from fantasy and magic and into something different.

 

For my next audiobook, I found the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories narrated by Stephen Fry. It’s, like, 60 hours but broken into the different stories at about 10 hours a piece. So I’m going to listen to A Study in Scarlet next week. I will put together a  review of the audio when I get through it in a couple weeks, but if there are things I know will be good it’s Sherlock Holmes and a Stephen Fry narrative.

And that’s where I am in my reading, what have you reading this week?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

 

 

 

Review: The Impossible Knife Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Details

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Published:  January 7th, 2014
Genres:  YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
My Rating: 4.75 Stars

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GoodReads Blurb

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

My Review

Laurie Halse Anderson’s books hold a special place in my reader’s heart. Her books always touch on difficult issues that aren’t discussed fully, in my opinion, in the YA community, yet are issues that teens and young adults face. Most of us know of or have read Speak, Anderson’s amazing book about a young girl dealing with the aftermath rape. Speak is top 10 best books I’ve ever read. Anderson also tackled eating disorders in Wintergirls. I found that book heartbreaking and brilliant. The Impossible Knife Memory discusses PTSD, and mental health issues is a way only Laurie Halse Anderson can deliver.

Hayley’s voice throughout the story stuck with me. She has a pessimism about life, that feels so real. She’s snarky. And everything about her worldview makes sense as we are introduced to her father, a man who is a war vet suffering from PTDS.

To be honest, I don’t know much about PTDS, I do know that Laurie Halse Anderson does research that anyone who does research should be envious of. I have been following her blog for a long time, and while she was writing this book as well as Wintergirls, she shared some of her research and discussed her ways of learning and understanding the issues that she was writing about.

Hayley’s snark and voice hides deep issues that she is struggling with while trying to deal with her father and what he’s living through. Hayley trying to fix everything and everyone while not dealing with herself is, just, so relatable.

This book is wonderful, I could never praise Laurie Halse Anderson enough. This book is another excellent example proving that Anderson is one of this generation’s best and most powerful writers.

Have you read this book? Have you read Laure Halse Anderson’s other books? What did you think?

 

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

Fierce Fangirl Friday: STF

Welcome to Fierce Fangirl Friday! ❤

Fierce Fangirl Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Jackie over at toomuchofabooknerd where you have the opportunity to do some healthy fangirling on your blog!

Whenever you have something, anything to fangirl about – whether it be a book, TV show, music, celebrities, your pet, the universe, finding your soulmate or just a recent meal that you’ve had – Fierce Fangirl Friday is your opportunity to do so! It doesn’t matter if it’s a recent obsession of yours or something you’ve been loving for a while!

The rules are simple ones, make sure you ping back to Jackie, and whenever there is a Friday that you need to fangirl, about anything, even if it’s not what your blog is usually about, have at it.


 

This week, I’m going a local.

On Tuesdays from June to August since 2004, I have had the pleasure of being an audience member of the Seacoast of New Hampshire’s Premiere Improv Comedy Troupe: Stranger than Fiction.

Recently, I’ve gotten a little bit better at taking pictures, so I’ve been snapping away capturing once in a lifetime moments in one night only performances. (with permission because I know that taking pictures of stage performances is usually a big no, but they say at the start of the show that I can take pictures, so I do.)

 

Improv Comedy is wonderful, getting to watch this cast grow, and create in the last 14 seasons has been so much fun. I, personally, will never get on that stage, but watching these actors every week during the summer and once a month during the rest of the year has been a privilege.

How did I get sucked into this wonderful madness? Well, I wanted ice cream and extra credit. 17-year-old Deanna had simple needs. I kept going because it took a ridiculously long time for the ice cream promise to happen. Like 6 years. It took 6 years to get my ice cream. I just wanted free ice cream, and I ended up falling in love with watching these shows and seeing these actors do things that I can’t imagine being able to do. These actors are so quick, and it’s just so fun to watch the scene play out directly from the minds of actors to stage.

While waiting for my ice cream, the shows became a cool thing that I did with my friends. There was a huge group of us that went nearly every week. For years the only show I had ever missed was the one after Harry Potter, and the Deathly Hallows came out, and I was a little sad. I would drive down from Waterville, Maine where I was going to college to see some of the shows. I love watching these amazingly talented actors.

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In recently years, the troupe has been doing some amazing themes. Like horror stories, puppets, Harry Potter (both Maurders era and 19 years later) they’ve done a show dressed as historical characters, childhood toys, and American Girl dolls. I’ve seen danger improv, space improv with a robot, a show inspired by John Hughes movies, several improvised musicals. There is just no knowing what’s going to happen when you enter the theater, but you know that you’re going to leave with sore sides and unable to really describe accurately to new people.

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Stranger than Fiction is an amazing group of people that I’ve gotten to know as a fan and in some cases as friends over the years. I can honestly never say enough about how much I adore these creative and unbelievably funny people. I have loved watching the show and actors evolve over the years.

I will never ever get on that stage except to walk across it to get my seat, but I love getting to a part of this as the weird girl in the front row that takes all the pictures. STF has become a staple in my life, and I could talk about them forever. I’m so thrilled that new summers season started this week and I can’t wait to see what else is happening this summer. The summer time is when many of us get to do a lot fun stuff that we don’t get to do during the rest of year. STF and Gishwhes are my summer staples.

Is there amazing local theater near you? Did it change your life? If you haven’t seen local theater, I highly recommend that you check out the scene near you. Who knows what treasures you will find.

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

Top 5 Wednesday- Books for Slytherins

Top 5 Wednesday is currently being hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to learn more about the group or are considering joining in, check out the Goodreads group. Each week has a different topic, and you just post five books that fit that topic.

This week’s topic is books that represent your Hogwarts house. I am a very proud Slytherin, so my book recommendations this week are for my housemates in Green and Silver.

Before I delve into this topic, I must ask a question. Why is Harry Potter on every single list of books for your Hogwarts house? I mean, like, if you know your Hogwarts house I’m going to take a wild guess that you’ve read Harry Potter but anyway, back to the post!


Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.

So, fun story, I am a Slytherin, in researching a little bit for what books really represent the ambitious, cunning, and resourceful nature of Slytherins, I discovered I read much more like a Gryffindor-Hufflepuff hybrid. So that was interesting, but anyway, here are the Top Five books I think represent Slytherin.

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Bossypants by  Tina Fey. So when I think famous people who are Slytherins, one of the first that pop into my head is Tina Fey. After listening to the audiobook of her memoir, I am very confident that I am correct in my assumption that Tina Fey is a sister in Green and Silver. She is ambitious and worked extremely hard to get to be where she is. And to be honest, when I think about Tina Fey one of the first things that pops into my mind is the Weekend Update segment where she said: “Bitches get stuff done…” And to me, that’s what she represents.  This is an excellent book, a touch dated at this point as memoirs can be as they age, but still just an excellent listen and probably read as well.

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I know what you’re thinking: “Deanna’s recommending Heist Society by Ally Carter? I never saw that coming!” This is the 4th time this series has made a top 5 or top 10 list of mine, and I am not sorry. This series is about a group of teens that use their cleverness to outsmart adults and police and Robin Hood their way through life. The gang knows how to use their skills to their advantage, and if that isn’t a Slytherin thing than nothing is Slytherin. These books are fun, fast reads that I just love. Kat Bishop is Slytherin through and through.

 

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The Pretty Little Liars series by  Sara Shepard. I have only read the first two books, and it was, like a thousand years ago, but I am fairly obsessed with the TV show (thanks, Jen!) which I know is super different but whatever. With it coming to an end in the next month, it’s hard not to have these girls come to mind when thinking about the traits of Slytherins. The mind games these girls play and that get played on them is straight up Slytherin glory.

 

 

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I chose The Princess Diarist, because this Carrie Fisher memoir is about Princess Leia, and Princess Leia is a Slytherin.  Carrie Fisher, for me, is more of a combination of Hogwarts houses and I’m not sure exactly where to put her, but the General, she’s a Slytherin. A take charge, rescue the boys that came to rescue her, someone has to save our skins, badass that Slytherin is. I have seen a lot of discussion about what houses the Star Wars Characters are in, but cunning, resourcefulness, and Self-Preservation are the traits that stand out in a Slytherin. And Leia is all that.

 

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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Completely honest, I have never read this book, but it’s on every single “BOOKS FOR SLYTHERINS!” list I’ve seen this week, and I feel like I need to mention it and add to my TBR pile. I think I was supposed to read it in college but never did. From reading the description, it sounds like it contains some resourceful, forward-thinking, clever characters.

 

 

 

And that’s my list, what do you think? If you’re a Slytherin what different books would you recommend?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna