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Shawn H. - Reviews

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Abigail Adams: A Life
Abigail Adams: A Life
Author: Woody Holton
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 5/6/2014


I enjoyed listening to this account of Abigail Adams' life, based almost entirely on letters that passed between her and her family and friends. She was an interesting woman, ahead of her time on some issues, such as female education and a woman's right to own property, and staunchly conservative on other religious and political topics. This book is chronological, so that it tells the story of her life, how it unfolded including births, marriages, illnesses and deaths and many other adventures and mishaps of her relatives and acquaintances along the way. She was an intelligent and classy lady whom others looked to for wisdom to the very end, and she never hesitated to speak her mind and stand her ground on issues she held dear.


The Almond Tree
The Almond Tree
Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 8/7/2013


This book sheds light on the disgusting violence and human rights violations that have been committed against Arabic Palestinians since the 1940s. It shows the damage hatred can create, but it is also a story about great love and great sacrifice, about honoring one's roots while being true to one's self, about choosing peace instead of vengeance.

A mathematical genius, Ichmad Hamid grows up as the oldest son in an Arabic family living in a ravaged village of the Jewish-occupied Palestine. He and his family must endure brutal violence and great loss, but through it all Ichmad's noble father teaches him to treat his enemies with sympathy instead of hatred and to embrace his strengths to make something of himself against all odds.

I found this well-written book to be very enlightening and inspiring. The ideas presented in this story have the power to change the world!

I received this book free through Goodreads First Reads.


Among the Imposters
Among the Imposters
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 7/25/2013


Margaret Haddix continues her Shadow Children series in this exciting and suspenseful second volume. After the dramatic ending of Among the Hidden, our hero, Luke, acquires a fake identity and goes off to a boarding school with barons. The whole world is new to him as he has spent his whole life in hiding, and he now must deal with all the twists and turns of his new environment and new companions with very few clues about how things work. I thing Haddix did a great job, and after the surprising end of this novel, I'm definitely starting on the third book in the series tonight!


The Aquatic Labyrinth: a Venetian mystery
The Aquatic Labyrinth: a Venetian mystery
Author: Alastair Fontana
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/6/2014


This is an intricate historical mystery set in Venice. Full of political intrigue with many twists, turns and surprises, it held my interest and kept me guessing to the very end. I especially enjoyed the deep philosophical discussions throughout.


Ariel Bradley, Spy for General Washington
Ariel Bradley, Spy for General Washington
Author: Lynda Durrant
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/13/2014


This is the story of Ariel Bradley, a 9-year-old boy, who served as a spy for General Washington during the Revolutionary War in 1776. He pretended to be a country bumpkin, or a "Johnny Raw" in 18th century terminology, and rode into enemy territory, pretending to be lost and in desperate need of directions, reporting back to Washington about how many soldiers and how much equipment the enemy had. This helped Americans to win the Battle of the White Plains in New York State in 1776.

It's a beautiful story that demonstrates how a child can be brave and helpful for a cause he holds dear. I enjoyed the story very much, and the artwork was magnificent! Who knows? We might all be in a very different country if it weren't for this child's courage and determination. This book makes a great history lesson for children, fun and easy to read.

I received a digital version of this book free from Net Galley for the purpose of reviewing.


Basic Seminole Patchwork
Basic Seminole Patchwork
Author: Cheryl Greider Bradkin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/22/2010


I love this book and plan on trying some of the patterns.


Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy, Bk 1)
Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy, Bk 1)
Author: Juliet Grey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 11/19/2013
Helpful Score: 1


Becoming Marie Antoinette is the first installment of the Marie Antoinette trilogy by Juliet Gray. This is a fun and educational read.

I previously knew very little about Marie Antoinette, only that she was the queen of France who was beheaded during the French Revolution and that she once said, of the starving masses, "Let them eat cake!" Now, I feel sympathetic toward her, having the weight of the world placed upon her young shoulders beginning at the tender age of 10, when it was first suggested that she should marry Louis XVI and cement the treaty between Austria and France. She was constantly reprimanded by her ambitious mother, who withheld the simplest demonstrations of affection or comfort, then at 14 sent to Versailles without the slightest hope of ever seeing her beloved Austria or family ever again.

Once married and living in the palace at Versailles, I admire the way our heroine strove diligently to follow the often ridiculous French etiquette and to live above reproach. It was also fun to read about the crazy behavior of the upper echelon and to hear about the unusual circumstances of Marie Antoinette's marriage with a husband so shy that he could barely touch her for years and how she learned to love him, offering patience and understanding, for all his shortcomings.

And, just for the record, Marie Antoinette never did say, "Let them eat cake!"

This novel ends as Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI ascend the throne of France, and I am eagerly anticipating the next two books to learn how the rest of her story unfolds.


Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean
Review Date: 7/25/2013
Helpful Score: 1


If you like the show "My Cat From Hell," then you'll love this book. Jackson Galaxy shares his personal story of how he discovered his path and traveled it while battling and overcoming obstacles such as drug addiction and food addiction. I especially like that Jackson uses his own words and tells his story in a brutally honest way. He's a gift to cats and cat lovers everywhere!


Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog: 98 Essential Tips and Techniques
Review Date: 7/25/2013


This is the best guide for training a dog. Cesar is the best at teaching us how to give our dogs what they need and draw clear boundaries at the same time. He also shares some tidbits from his own personal struggles in life. I listened to the audio version of this book, and the only thing that would have made it better would have been hearing it in Cesar's own voice.


Communion with God (Random House Large Print)
Communion with God (Random House Large Print)
Author: Neale Donald Walsch
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/3/2007


Insightful.


God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom
Review Date: 6/24/2014


God's Double Agent by Bob Fu is the exciting memoir of a man who grew up under the Communist regime, became a Christian and evangelist and finally escaped from China and dedicated his life to the organization he established called ChinaAid to help other Christians and political dissidents being persecuted by the Chinese government.

This is a very entertaining story and also one that reminds us of the freedoms we take for granted in this country. It surprised me how willing many of these people are to risk their very lives for their religious beliefs and to help others with similar beliefs. I wonder if I could be so brave under such grueling circumstances.

I received this book free through Goodreads First Reads program.


Hamba Gashle
Hamba Gashle
Author: Ian Hassall
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/31/2013


This is the memoir of the author from the age of 3 to 22. He was born in England, but at the age of 4, his parents decided to move to Africa, a land of prosperity for whites at that time. Over the years, as our narrator grows up, he must come to grips with racial inequality and social injustice as he survives the divorce of his parents, the subsequent blending of step-families, fitting in with peers, and all the challenges of education, dating and finally college and finding his place in the world. By the end of this journey, opportunities for whites have diminished as more and more jobs are "Africanized," and he returns to England, a virtual stranger in the very place where he was born.

I found this story fascinating. Through simple diary format, the author is honest, at times brutally so, and he always considers both sides of the issues. "Hamba Gashle" means "chameleon" and also" take it easy," as he learned through the years to blend in and make peace with whatever changes occurred around him.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys coming of age stories and also to anyone who enjoys learning about different cultures and exploring political philosophies.

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.


Hannah's Story
Hannah's Story
Author: Ann S. Chandler
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/1/2014


The beautiful tale of a 9-year-old girl who escaped the Killough Massacre in East Texas in 1838 by hiding in a berry vine. From there, she has many adventures. First, she is rescued by a Cherokee Indian and adopted into their tribe where she teaches them English and the ways of the white man (at least to the extent that a 9-year-old girl can). They become her family for several years until she is finally reunited with what is left of her blood relatives.

This book is written journal style and appropriate for the musings of a young child. It is easy to read and understand. This is a charming story that reminds us of how childhood misfortunes and serendipities are tools that form us into the adults we become. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or desires to learn about the lives and plight of Native Americans during the westward settlement of our nation. It would make a fun history assignment for children and is also a pleasant read for adults.


Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 5/6/2014
Helpful Score: 3


This is the story of Elizabeth Keckley, a strong and inspiring woman who, born a slave, worked hard sewing for ladies on the side and saved enough to free herself and her son and then to send her son Robert to school. It's about her determination to not only survive in the world, but to also prosper in her dressmaking business, hiring others and offering assistance to newly freed slaves who were trying to make their own way in the world for the first time. During the Civil War, she cofounded the Contraband Relief Society, personally contributing as much money as she could spare and also teaching the freed slaves sewing skills they could use for their livelihood. In this novel, we also meet the Lincolns through her eyes, as Elizabeth Keckley became the personal modiste of Mary Todd Lincoln and became acquainted with the president's family intimately during her employ at the White House. She became Mrs. Lincoln's closest friend, the person called upon during traumatic events, when Mrs. Lincoln lost a child to illness and later lost her husband at the hand of an assassin. Elizabeth Keckley was always there to comfort Mrs. Lincoln and offer sound advice and wise counsel, a true friend in times of need, often neglecting her other clients and personal needs. I think it is very sad that Mrs. Lincoln was not as loyal to Elizabeth Keckley, as after one embarrassing mistake in the publishing of some personal correspondence as part of Ms. Keckley's memoir Mrs. Lincoln was never able to forgive her.

I enjoyed this novel and would suggest it to any Civil War enthusiast and anyone who enjoys reading about history from a different perspective than we are typically taught about in school. This is not by any means an unbiased account of the Civil War and the issues surrounding those times, but it is likely the way Ms. Keckley might have viewed them. And the relationship between Ms. Keckley and Mrs. Lincoln was a remarkable one, especially considering the differences in their backgrounds and stations in life. I only wish it could have had a happy ending. We can only hope, as Ms. Keckley did at the end of the novel, that their friendship was renewed in the afterlife.


Mrs. Lincoln's Rival (Audio CD) (Unabridged)
Review Date: 5/27/2014


This is the story of Kate Chase, considered by many to be one of the most brilliant women of her time. She was advisor to her father, Salmon P. Chase, once President Lincoln's rival for the Republican nomination, later his Secretary of the Treasury and finally appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Considered "the Belle of Washington," Kate always seemed to instinctively know how to behave to win over others, with the single exception of Mrs. Lincoln, with whom she shared a bitter rivalry. In Kate's private life, she had a much harder time, as her choice of husbands, William Sprague (boy governor of Rhode Island), dealt her many challenges and humiliations, which she handled with grace and pride.

The author did a magnificent job of bringing the Civil War time to life with colorful dialogues and a perfect blend of true historical facts and imagination.

I received this book free through Library Thing Early Reviewers, the audio version produced by Recorded Books. Listening to it was a pleasure as the narrator demonstrates a wonderful range with her voice and reads with passion.


Naked Justice (Ben Kincaid, Bk 6)
Naked Justice (Ben Kincaid, Bk 6)
Author: William Bernhardt
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 7/25/2013


I've been reading the Ben Kindcaid series in order, and so far, this is my favorite one. It was fast-paced and kept me guessing until the very end!


The Only Diet There Is
The Only Diet There Is
Author: Sondra Ray
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 5/3/2007


Insightful.


Return of the Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited
Review Date: 5/3/2007


Awesome book! I enjoyed it.


Samurai Summer
Samurai Summer
Author: Ake Edwardson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 9/23/2013


Samurai Summer is a coming of age story set in a Swedish Summer Camp in the 60s. Kenny is the main character, who is 12 years old and will be too old to return to the camp after this, his final summer. Kenny considers himself a samurai and is the leader of his group of friends who are his samurai in training. They are planning and building a "castle" in the woods that has become a home away from home for all of them.

There is a war raging between the kids and the adults who run the camp, and Kenny and his friends are determined to win. As the story transpires, tension builds along with foreshadowing, reeling the reader in for the grand finale.

A very enjoyable story! The reader is given insight into the mind of a 12-year-old who has very little trust for adults, but finds that kids find strength when they band together.

Adults will benefit from reading this book to be reminded what it was like to be a kid with little understanding of how the world works and very little power to defend against adults who want to control you and in some cases prey upon you. It will also benefit children, teaching them about the power of self discipline and also how cooperation with others, even those we may not otherwise like, can help us to reach our goals.


The Shack (Library Edition): Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity
Review Date: 11/9/2015


The Shack by William Paul Young is a powerful story that explores the character of God. Mack, the main character, finds himself in turmoil after the loss of his daughter to a brutal serial killer. This dark experience causes Mack to doubt God's faithfulness, growing bitter and resentful, but God, aka "Papa," meets Mack at "the shack," revealing Himself in a fresh, down-to-earth persona, answering many of Mack's questions, demonstrating His love and helping Mack to find closure for the pain and disappointments in his life. I enjoyed this book very much and would suggest it for anyone willing to explore God in a new light.


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