Tag Archives: books

Destiny of the Republic ~ a Book Club post & review

Destiny of the Republic squareI stumbled across this title during a discussion on Facebook. It sounded interesting so I searched it out. A good choice!

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

This is a nonfiction book about the assassination of President Garfield. But it starts long before that, bringing President Garfield into light and allowing the reader to truly know who he was. He was not a showy man. He did not seek to be in the spotlight. But he did not shy away from stepping up to help where he knew he was needed.

When he ascended to the Presidency, it was because the people wanted him there. He did not desire to be president and was actually speaking for another man to be president when he was nominated. He was elected and so he stepping into the role, knowing he was needed. He desired to help the country move forward and to grow and unite.

As with any President, there were many who sought his favor. At this time, the White House was a place where regular folks could come and go at will. Office seekers did just that, often at all hours. One of these office seekers, Charles Guiteau, was dangerously delusional. He had been for a while. When he did not get an office, he eventually decided that the best response was to remove the President so that the Vice-President would take over. Guiteau thought, in his state of mind, that the Vice-President would be more willing to give him the office he wanted.

He was successful in his attempt on the President’s life, though the death of the President was not immediate. This is where the medicine part of the title comes in. There were many different ideas at the time about how best to treat different medical needs. Disinfection was one of the ideas being discussed widely. There were some who were beginning to understand how infection could be introduced to a body and were calling for disinfection of all medical areas and utensils. Others strongly disagreed with those ideas.

Many of the doctors who treated President Garfield were of the opinion that disinfection was not necessary. Unfortunately for all of us, they were wrong and the President died from the infection introduced through the treatments his medical practitioners gave. This overwhelming infection is what he eventually succumbed to.

The country was left mourning a popular President just months after his inauguration. A kind, sunny personality left and left behind many who loved him. He never had a moment during his long, protracted illness that he lost his cheerfulness. And, since the assassination came so soon after he became President, we don’t really know what the country lost as a leader.

This was an illuminating read for me and I am so glad I stumbled across it. The connections (we have x-ray machines because of this – you’ll have to read to find this connection) were interesting for me. I am so glad that I have read this. I knew Garfield was known to be a kind and good man but now I understand the extent of this. His wife was a sweet lady. They were the “All-American” family and so many people could relate to them. What a sad thing that we lost this particular President before he was able to do those things people knew he could in the White House.

Is this a good read? Absolutely.
Is it a fast read? Yes, actually, it was a pretty fast one to read for me.
Will you learn a lot? Unless you are a history buff and already know a good bit about President Garfield, I don’t how you could NOT learn a lot.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Destiny of the Republic Short

The Journey That Saved Curious George – book

Y’all, I was at the library yesterday (our weekly event, you know) and found this fantastic book for children while browsing their NEW section.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey

Written by Louisa Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond, this is the story of Margret and H.A. Rey. I knew a smidgeon about their background but not much so this title really caught my eye. 

The Reys were both German Jews. You know where this is going right away don’t you? Partly. Their background actually has them travelling all over the world, it seems. They actually re-met and married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They had evidently known each other from Hamburg, Germany, before they each left to pursue opportunities. 

While in Brazil, they became citizens and then, after a while, they returned to Europe. While not planning to, they ended up settling in Paris. While there, Hitler continued to gain power. Eventually, war began. And, like many others throughout Europe, they worried about safety. 

Eventually, they had to flee Paris. They had no idea when they began preparing to leave that they would just miss disaster multiple times but the slimmest of margins. Getting themselves bicycles, they literally pedaled out of Paris in the nick of time, heading south. They carried the barest of possession with them, some of which included the manuscripts for several children’s books they were working on. 

They were able to get our of France, just barely and with almost no money left. They were able to get a bit more money and get on a boat out of Portugal after making their way through Spain. After arriving in Brazil, they were able to find passage on a ship to America. Safe arrival in America came four months after pedaling out of Paris. What a journey. 

And through it all, they carried with them the manuscript for the children’s book we now know as Curious George. 

This fantastic children’s biography is written with simple text that is easy to understand, though still interesting for someone like me. It is about 70 pages long and presented as a children’s picture book, though it is broken up into sections like a chapter book. Each set of pages is wonderfully illustrated. Some are original for this book but many are the Rey’s drawings for some of their children’s books. There are also quite a few pictures of the Rey’s at different times in their journeys and life. Another inclusion that is really interesting are images of many of the documents of the Rey’s lives – letters, journal pages, stamps, and more.

This is a well-written biography that children will be able to understand. It gives a solid understanding of some of the fear that people would have faced during the German invasions of WWII, as well as the advantage some folks had over others in cases where money made the difference. 

If you are doing an author study, this would be a great addition. It is also a good addition to a WWII study. A neat find!

Blessings,
At Home.

The Storm of the Century ~ Book Club

This will be the last book club of 2018. Hard to imagine things have gone so fast, isn’t it? With the types of weather that has been experienced by the country this year, this book choice just kind of fits in. Part of our Mega Field Trip was to New Bern, NC. If you will remember, it was hit hard by Hurricane Florence this year. And we skeedaddled out of the way of Hurricane Michael while we were on the homeward stretch of the trip. So, The Storm of the Century kind of fits. 

Written by Al Roker (yes, the weather man), this book is subtitled “tragedy, heroism, survival and the epic true story of America’s deadliest natural disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900.” This book definitely lives up to its name. It is an engaging, thrilling, heart-wrenching book on everything related to that unparalleled disaster. From the stories of the people, to what causes these storms, to the influence of politics on the outcome of storms like this, it is an understatement to say I learned a lot. 

While I really enjoy the human stories of triumph amid tragedy that are shared so detailed here, I find they are enriched by the backstories of the history and science that Mr. Roker so clearly and openly shares here. The stories of the people are interwoven throughout the book so that you are easily able to follow that thread and see how it connects to things like the creation of the Weather Service and the political situation in Cuba and to the formation of the rain clouds that eventually grew to a storm of montrous proportions. 

Mr. Roker does a wonderful job of using language and expressions in a way that you can easily place yourself in the story that he is telling. When he is describing the horror that Isaac Cline felt when he realized that Galveston was, indeed, going to experience a disaster, you feel it yourself. When the little girl is picked off a floating piece of debris and brought to huddle with other survivors you feel relief and hope for her. When you read about Cassie heart-wrenchingly wishing she had died in the storm, you feel the great fear and despair she must have felt. The people are brought to life and you can’t help but feel a little bit of what they must have felt. 

One unexpected thing you will experience in reading this particular book is a growth of knowledge. I had no idea that almost all Atlantic hurricanes begin in the same place over Africa and the many forces that must act on those rain clouds to become a major storm. I had no idea that the political tensions in Cuba would have had a devastating effect on the loss of life in Galveston (a ban on communications stopped men who felt they truly understood the storm from being able to communicate with anyone who would listen to them in America). Honestly, I had no idea that the Cuban monks had such extensive knowledge of weather and were considered some of the best in the world. Yet, since it was believed at the time that weather could not be predicted very well and especially not storms, they were not allowed to share their information and understanding. What a shame! 

This is a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am thrilled to find that Mr. Roker is a talented writer that I enjoyed reading. 

As I close, I just want to share that I am reimagining what is going to happen with the Book Club for 2019. I haven’t finalized that but be looking for something a bit different in January. 

Blessings,
At Home.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Preparing for Christmas ~ book reviews

Both of these books are available from New Growth Press.

A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas by Steven Estes

Many of us know just how insightful the book of Proverbs in the Bible is to our daily lives. But have you ever thought about how much it applies to the holiday season? to Christmas time? 

Me, either. But Steven Estes did. And his humorous application of the Proverbs to the holidays is a joyous read. This is a short 80-ish page read and is broken into chapters focusing on things like gifts, children, longings, others, and disappointment. Each of the chapters seems to be right on target for so many of us as the holidays can 

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the holidays, the commercialism, and the “stuff”, take a peek at this book. The insights will help you grab hold of what is important, what is necessary, and the joy that should be fueling our holidays. As we are brought into “Someone greater than Solomon is here”, the beauty of the plan of God is revealed and Jesus is introduced. This easy to understand transition is the perfect way to introduce Jesus to those who don’t yet know him. 

The pen-and-ink drawings that add whimsicality to the book. This neat little book would be a great one to share with others this holiday season.

Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski

Are you looking for a series of family devotionals to guide you through the season approaching Christmas? Some folks call this time Advent. I didn’t grow up using that term and we don’t use it with the girls but the time approaching Christmas is still a time that hearts tend to be open to hearing more about our Savior. This book is a series of family devotionals for the 4 weeks of Advent to celebrate the birth of Jesus. 

Broken into 4 weeks, this series of studies looks at the prophecies the foretold Christ’s coming and the fulfillment of those prophecies. Each week has three family devotionals and a chapter of a Bartimaeus story that unfolds one week at a time, concluding in week 4. Each family devotional includes a list of supplies needed (so you can be prepared ahead of time), a warm-up activity, reading the prophecy scripture, and a written out series of thoughts about the prophecy. Another section is titled Talk About It and it related to the scripture read. There is at least one carol included in each devotional for some singing and you can get a companion CD if you wish. Then there is a family activity to close the devotional. 

The time required for each devotional will vary depending on if you choose to use all of the activities and how much discussion you include. You may even wish to include a significant amount more scripture to really bring the impact of the message home to your family. In this case, you will need to go digging and that will take some additional time but I find that when we open up that kind of discussion with the girls, we all learn a whole lot more and can understand scripture more. 

This is a simple way to add some meaningful Bible time to you holidays.

Blessings,
At Home.

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From the Titanic ~ Book Club

The Watch That Ends The Night

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. It is historical fiction with a poetic twist. Anyone who enjoys reading about the Titanic will thoroughly enjoy this book.

The Watch That Ends The Night is written by Allan Wolf. We all know the story but Mr. Wolf takes the information, the facts, and uses them to create a whole new story – to bring the people to life, so to speak. He gives them character, family, emotion, hope, fear, and dreams.

Each page, sometimes two, is a new speaker. These are the thoughts and actions and emotions of each of the people who were on board this magnificent ship when she floundered and failed. The speaker has a way with words that varies from person to person, just like in life. Each person speaks a different way, using a different type of poetry.

These voices tell us the story of the Titanic from a unique perspective. Meet the voices of this disaster:

Olaus Abelseth – the immigrant
Thomas Andres – the shipbuilder
John Jacob Astor – the millionaire
Joseph Boxhall – the navigator
Harold Bride – the spark (wireless operator)
E.J. Smith – the captain
Jamila Nicola-Yarred – the refugee
The Iceberg
The Ship Rat
. . . and more.

p. 7 – The Iceberg

I am the ice. I see the tides ebb and flow.
I’ve watched civilizations come and go,
give birth, destroy, restore, be gone, begin.
My blink of an eye is humankind’s tortoise slow. . .

p. 175 – The First-Class Promenade

Like figures on a crousel,
around the upper-crust rondelle,
they swagger, sway, sashay, glissade;
Titanic‘s first-class promenade. . .

These are just a couple of examples of the differences in the poetic voices used to tell the story of the ship building, the launch, the sailing, the disaster, the rescue.

Mr. Wolf has done an incredible amount of research and used this information to put together this new and interesting vision of the Titanic. It is a fascinating and interesting read. There is much information that I had not heard before or a new take on it that helps me see the people on board the ship as real.

As with all historical fiction, there is some information that is included from lore and legend, some that is changed or unverifiable. However, Mr. Wolf does a complete job of trying to make the reader aware of where those changes or legends occur by include a as-true-as-is-known biography of each of the voices in the story. This final closure is a wonderful ending to this unique story.

This is one to add to your list. No doubt about it. You can find a partial preview and read some of the story online.

Blessings,
At Home.

As always, please visit Wendy’s Ladybug Daydreams blog to see what she read this month and is up to now. Thanks for reading along!

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

 

Gathering of Sisters ~ book review

Gathering of Sisters

Interest in family, in life, in day-to-day activity – it is what keeps us all moving forward and finding meaning in life, isn’t it?

Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family by Darla Weaver is a book that records a year’s worth of family time between Darla and her sisters, their mom and their children. Each Tuesday, the girls gather at Mom’s house to spend time with each other, in work, in play, in helping, and in relaxing. They cook and eat. They read and discuss. They encourage and challenge. They even ridicule and tease a bit. After all, isn’t that what life is about?

Darla grew up the oldest of nine children, five of which were girls. When she married and moved to her own home a few miles away, she ended up making a weekly trek home to visit with her mother and family. This grew into a tradition, not by choice but by enjoyment. As her sisters also grew up and began their own families, they all acquired the habit of visiting home on Tuesdays. This “family check-in” became a time of joy and renewal for all of them.Gathering of Sisters cover

Darla allows us to see glimpses of her family, of her life, and of who they are. And that includes their intentional and purposeful following of Christ. Their religion is an inherent part of who they are and how their lives are lived and that comes across neatly in this book. Life is filled with joy, fellowship, and lots of food. Everyone has to eat, right? So each week we hear a bit about all of these things, including whether or not they can get the intense writing habit Darla has to ease a bit and be replaced with coloring and card-making. (This was a fun aspect of the story for me, as I enjoy writing and crafting.) Spoiler – at the end, we do see Darla pick up a colored pencil. 🙂

Family is of utmost importance and life revolves around that. From helping younger nieces and nephews in daily moments (tumbles, desires, upsets, and laughter) to helping a sister after the premature birth of a child, we watch this family live and grow as they serve God in their homes and lives.

Many of us look at the Mennonite community and wonder. This book opens up a lot of that community to me (at least from this central Texas perspective I have) and I can now relate more to their lives. I strive to put God first and serve my family as homemaker. This is what these sister do, too. I have dreams and desires and have to make concessions about what I can or cannot purchase. These sisters do, also. (I was very much able to relate to the worn-out shoe story where Darla talks about not purchasing a pair of shoes for herself so she can get something her family needs.) Church and God come first for the sisters and I am striving for that, too. Struggles, failures, successes and growth – all of this is something we all have and this book shows these parts of life in living color and in all their glory. Yes, glory. For without a few struggles, the hopefulness is not as sweet. Without a failure, we don’t understand and celebrate success. Gathering of Sisters gives up a glimpse of this in the life of this family and shows us that it is common among us all.

Darla Weaver wears many hats. In addition to a members of the Old Order Mennonite community living in the hills of southern Ohio, she is a wife, mother, homemaker, gardener, and writer. She has written other books in addition to Gathering of Sisters, including Water My Soul and Many Lighted Windows. At the end of the book, there is an interview with Darla that sheds even more light on the community she lives in and their beliefs, as well as a “Day In The Life” feature that shows what one day looks like for her.

Herald Press (www.heraldpress.com) is the publisher of Gathering of Sisters. Gathering of Sisters is the sixth book in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each Plainspoken book is written by Amish and Mennonite people about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites. The book has a cover price of $14.99 and is a softback book of about 265 pages.

There is an excerpt available for you to read if you are interested in learning more.

Blessings,
At Home.

weaver - blog tour graphic

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One ~ Book Club

You Second Life

This is a compelling little book that was handed to me by my MIL the other day. She just said “Do you want to read this? It looks neat but it is way down in my pile and I can’t read it yet.” So I did. It grabbed me from the beginning and I was riveted.

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One

Written by Raphaelle Giordano, this book has been translated into English. I believe it was originally written in French. It does take place in Paris, I believe. (I am guessing a little but the places mentioned all seem to fit Paris.)

We meet Camille at the beginning of the book and are quickly introduced to her hectic, busy, unfulfilling, unhappy/happy life. She is married to one she loves and has a little boy. They have a good place to live and she has a solid job. But she is feeling out-of-sorts, discontented, and unhappy. Which doesn’t make sense to her with such a “good” life. On the day we meet her, she has an accident with her tire and ends up in the middle of nowhere knocking on a stranger’s door. And with all that has happened, she ends up pouring out her story and discontent to him.

And he responds incredibly – I can help.

He listens and offers her his card. From there, he tells her that he understands (sometimes that is the most powerful part, isn’t it?) and that she can change her life. She is intrigued and contact him for help after she gets back to the city. What she finds is someone who wants her to success, to have a “happy” life, and a listening ear. She also finds significant encouragement and unusual tactics that help her focus, change, and redirect her thoughts and her life.

By the end of the story, we find a new Camille – happier, directed, focused, healthy, and energetic. She knows who she is and what she wants.

So many of the ideas and life changes are things that the reader can relate to. They can be addressed and changed in the reader’s life, as well. I find that fascinating. Yes, this is a novel but there is much to be learned from the approaches and the ideas in this book. If you are feeling rooted in discontent and want to find a way to redirect your life, pick this book up and give it a read. The ideas just might help you challenge your status quo and become someone you really admire and want to be. You just might end up following your dream.

Blessings,
At Home.

Visit Ladybug Daydreams, if you have a moment. I don’t know if Wendy is able to post for the Book Club this month or not but I’d love it if you would visit her blog for a moment or two.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

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