Review for Lincoln on the Verge

Well folks, I know its been awhile since I have popped on here. Now that the holidays are upon us I am hoping to do more posts. This book was chosen by my book club for our nonfiction pick of the month. I’d never heard of it before reading it. Typically, I steer clear of nonfiction as it just doesn’t grab me. I prefer to escape through fiction and enjoy characters growth inside new worlds. Now, I set a goal for myself that I’d finish this before Thanksgiving. I really didn’t want a weighty book for Thanksgiving break. I can say I accomplished this goal!!

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington

Lincoln on the Verge Thirteen Days to Washington

by Ted Widmer

Genre – Nonfiction, Historical

Series – No

Rating – PG for mild discussions of slavery and mentions of assassination

Synopsis –

Basically this covers the 13 days Lincoln traveled from Springfield to Washington before his inauguration. We see a bit about his election and just how close the race was. Widmer also discusses how dangerous these few days were for the president-elect. He ends with the impact that Lincoln’s death had on uniting the American people.

My Thoughts –

I’ll be honest. The start of the book was dull and felt like the author had just assembled facts together related to one individual’s election. After the first chapter which introduces us to Lincoln’s plan to meander across America, the author then launches into a whole chapter devoted to railroads and how travel became more accessible to the people. However, one the journey began it did get a bit more interesting. I will say that I learned quite a bit about Lincoln, particularly related to the multiple assassination attempts throughout his journey.

The focus of the book is Lincoln. We don’t really see much of his family life. Widmer uses many quotes from John Hay, who was Lincoln’s assistant secretary. Hay gives inside to Lincoln’s behavior. I was surprised at how melancholy Lincoln seemed throughout his journey to Washington. It it mentioned several times that Lincoln had a feeling that he’d never be back to his home in Springfield. Especially near the end of his life, the author indicates, “That night, as he headed to the theater, he said “good-bye” to Crook instead of the usual “good-night.” (Widmer p. 450). I cannot imagine the weight of being president entails.

This book does portray just how committed Lincoln was to the cause of freedom and following the founding fathers vision for this new country. Throughout the 13 days that Lincoln traveled, he willingly put himself in harms way. He shook thousands of hands and after one evening, his hands became painful. Even just by visiting these states on his path to Washington, Lincoln raised morale and united a nation on the brink of collapse. At one point Lincoln could barely speak and yet he still gave a speech.

Now, the author doesn’t mention it, but to me it felt that the Lord played a big part in protection Lincoln. He had many close calls even from his own fans. In one instance a cannonball hit the train and shattered a window close to the Lincoln family. Throughout his travels, Lincoln was up close and personal with crowds of people and very readily someone could have taken a shot at him. Without Lincoln, who knows where our country would be today. My opinion of Lincoln has definitely increased.

I have one complaint that bugged me quite a bit. Widmer repeated himself a lot. He truly nailed down how homely and tall Lincoln was. It got very repetitive! Same with the different cities Lincoln visited. The author rehashed the same thoughts – big crowds, speeches, late nights, and how tired Lincoln was throughout it all. I get the point. Being a president is tiresome and hard work, I just wish that the author could have written it a different way.

Conclusion –

Lincoln on the Verge is long and at times tedious. However, it is very informative about this small section of Lincoln’s life. I learned more then I had anticipated I would. If you enjoy American history or look up to Abraham Lincoln, this gives an interesting look at this famous man’s travel to become president.

Up next – I’m rereading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. After all these long books recently, I need something lighthearted! 😉

How about you? What books are you reading this November? Do you enjoy history?

Anna

Review of The Normal Christian Life

The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

Genre – Nonfiction, Christian

Series – No

Rating – G – Aimed at adults

Synopsis –

Nee walks us through different aspects in a Christian’s life with his focus being on the book of Romans. He dives into just how much the the blood and the Cross did for us as well as going from knowing to reckoning what Christ did. He includes a few stories from his own life to help elucidate certain points. His goal is that we would be wasted for the Lord.

My Thoughts –

It has taken me 5 months to slowly read though this book. Normally I don’t take that long, but I read this one chapter maybe every 2 weeks. To start, a lady at my church began a women’s study through this book back in December. So I began reading it then. Also, I don’t read much nonfiction especially related to Christian living. Many of the modern Christian living books have some interesting beliefs thrown in so I tend to steer clear. Before that I had never even heard of this book, but what a deep and engaging book it turned out it be!

Nee starts off discussing the blood of Christ and why we need it. “We need forgiveness for the sins we have committed, lest we come under judgment; and they are forgiven, not because God overlooks what we have done but because he sees the Blood.” (p. 7). He then goes though Romans 6, 7, & 8 discussing 4 conditions: Knowing, Reckoning, Presenting ourselves to God, & Walking in the Spirit.

Nee really drives home how we died with Christ and I found this section eye opening as I hadn’t really thought of that verse in this way. He references Romans 6:6,8 and delves into how can you know, “whereas you were crucified on the selfsame cross a he, for you were in him when he died. How can you know? You can know for the one sufficient reason that God has said so.” (p.45). He brings it home by discussing the first Adam and how Christ was the last Adam.

Quotes:

“Grace means that God does something for me; law means I do something for God” ( p. 156)

“deliverance from the law implies that he exempts me from doing it, and that in grace he does it himself.” ( p. 156).

“Having at last reached the point of utter despair in ourselves so that we cease even to try, we put our trust in the Lord to manifest his resurrection life in us.” (p. 166).

“As long as we are trying to do anything, he can do nothing. It is because of our trying that we fail and fail and fail. ” (p. 167).

Conclusion –

Nee goes deep into several chapters in Romans as well Genesis. He raised up several points that led me to think about where I stood in my walk with Christ. I loved that he used Scripture to support Scripture. A good book to read slowly, and not rush though. I’d highly recommend it!

Up Next – I started Les Miserables and am about half way though. So will be working on that. Hoping to finish in about a week.

Over to you what have you been reading lately? Have any favorite nonfiction? Have you read this book?

Anna

Review for Will’s Red Coat

Will’s Red Coat by Tom Ryan

Genre – Nonfiction, memoir

Rating – PG-13 for brief strong language

Synopsis –

The author tells the story of an elderly dog named William who had a rough live before being put up for adoption. After hearing about William, Tom Ryan decides to adopt him. Little does he know of the hardships and baggage that Will brings with him. William goes on a journey that transforms him.

My Thoughts –

I had previously listened to the audio book Following Atticus last summer, and it came as a complete surprise when I received Will’s Red Coat for Christmas.

I enjoy the author writing style! It is laid back and personal. We get a glimpse into the wilderness of the New Hampshire mountains. Anytime I read a book like this, it inspires me to go hiking and spend time in nature.

I love Will’s redemptive story. With a little patience and understanding, we can plant seeds that may later lead to a change in person’s life (or an animal in this case). Reminds me how patient Jesus is with us and how he is always ready for when we turn to him.

The chapter about Will’s last days had me in tears. Will’s transformation affected so many lives. I was astounded at how the Facebook group reached out and filled the home with flowers.

Now, the author has an interesting theology and I cannot say that I agree with everything he says especially were salvation is concerned. I also believe the Holy Spirit is the one that does the transformation in our lives. I just wanted to mention that it is there.

Language – There wasn’t a ton, but the F-bomb was used three times. As well as some other uses of colorful language.

Violence – None

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

Looking for a book that combines picturesque descriptions of landscapes with a dog’s friendship, then this is the book for you! This is a thought provoking novel about dogs impact on our lives. Aimed at adults, but nothing that a mature teen couldn’t handle.

Do you love dogs? Have any favorite dog books? Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Anna

Review for The Girl who Said Goodbye

The Girl who Said Goodbye by Heather Allen

Genre – A Memoir

Rating – PG-13 for descriptions of atrocities committed and violence

Synopsis –

This book tells the story of a young women named Siv Eng who survived the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia. It goes back and forth between when she was little and during the take over. The author walks through the what Siv Eng went through from the years 1963-1980.

My Thoughts –

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the Khmer Rouge takeover. They were basically a communist group that was able to completely over throw the previous government and separate families to dehumanize them by taking away everything from religion to language. I was surprised at how effective they were in moving a whole country’s people to camps.

Siv Eng goes through so much in the 7 years of the take over. Its heartbreaking to read of her separation from her family. The people like Siv Eng who lived in the cities were forced to work in jungle labor camps collecting rice or digging trenches. Just imagine what it would be like to survive on just getting a bowl of soup. They had to supplement it with whatever they could steal.

Throughout the book you can see evidence of how God protected her even in her darkest days of illness. In one of the chapters Siv Eng cried out to the God. We find out that later in life she comes to accept Jesus as her Savior. We see how God provided kinder chiefs who would help Siv Eng find missing jewelry, move her to work in the gardens, and find certain missing family members.

Language – None

Innuendo – At one point in the book, the author mentioned that it was common for soldiers to rape women, but nothing happened to any of the characters. Other then the one mention, there was nothing inappropriate.

Violence –

Now due to this being a memoir Siv Eng mentions things she saw like rotting corpse, soldiers shooting the prisoners, or beating that happened. Also she mentioned how leeches who latch onto their feet. In one chapter it discuss how they had to detach a leech. A few sections mentioned mass murders or digging a mass grave. Several mentions of soldiers killing people.

Other –

There are many instances where individuals had to lie to the soldiers or to the Khmer Rouge in order to survive. Also, there is a mention of how the prisoners used helmets to relieve themselves.

Conclusion –

I really enjoyed this memoir! It opened my eyes to something that had happened in history. To me it is fascinating reading survival stories. The human body can endure so much pain and heartache with God’s help. This would be a good book for teens on up due to some of the content mentioned. I highly recommend reading it!!

Anna

Quick Reviews – 5 Books I read

I am going to try something different from how I normally write reviews. I will write about my top 5 books I have read in the past month. I have been reading a lot recently and I wanted to mention some of these amazing books. Now as a side note I do want to give The Silmarillion its own post as there is a lot to unpack.

The Story People by Heather Kaufman

Synopsis – Ben owns a bookstore that had belonged to his uncle. He struggles with finding a sense of home. When a female author comes to town, the town ladies try to match make these two together.

Thoughts – Although a wee bit predictable, it was a sweet read. I loved how the author put snippets telling the back story of the two kids at the beginning of each chapter. There were several times that this book made me laugh. I loved the older ladies and their escapades trying to keep Ben in town. If you are looking for a nice, light read, this is for you!

Rating – PG for some mild innuendo

Corus the Champion Lengends of Karac Tor by D. Briggs

Synopsis- This continues the story of the Barlow brothers and their adventures into Karac Tor. The four brothers have their work cut out for them as an enemy from the north approaches seeking to destroy all. Meanwhile Sorge attempts to find his lost friend.

Thoughts – I enjoyed this one even more then the first because now that the setting is built, we can sit back and enjoy the ride. One particular character goes on quite the journey. This book had more themes from Arthurian legend which I thought was neat! We actually get to see both Arthur and Merlin. I felt that this plot had more depth than the previous book. The time-travel thing was great and enhanced the plot.

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and a torture scene

The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

Synopsis – This is the history of Middle-Earth from its creation to the fall of Saruon. It tells the tale of the Silmarils which are three jewels that were created by the Valar. Melkor seeks revenge on the Valar and tries to take the Silmarils. There are also tales of the courage and corruption of the people of Middle Earth like men and elves.

Thoughts – Going into this book, I had anticipated hating it or at least dragging myself through it. I must say that it is so different from the Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed it more then I had thought I would and will probably need to reread this in the future. There are parts that were dry, but it makes up for it later on. I loved the tale of Beren and Luthien and the fall of Gondolin. Tolkien is a master word builder. The words he created can be very beautiful.

Rating – PG for fantasy violence

I found a podcast that does a great job of going thought Tolkien’s works. If you are interested, they will walk you through The Silmarillion. Highly recommend the Prancing Pony Podcast!

https://theprancingponypodcast.com/category/podcast-episodes/

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

Synopsis – Sasha’s brother has recently passed away and she must brave the world. She gets put into a foster home with a women who cares very much for her, but Sasha has gone through so much, and doesn’t know how to let Phillis in. Though a series of events, Sasha discovers poetry as a coping mechanism.

Thoughts – This was sad and almost depressing read. It has a happy ending, but gosh, this kid gets put through the ringer. For a middle-grade book, this has some tough themes, depression, anxiety, and grief. It actually reminded me a little bit of October Sky. It was an interesting read, but I am still on the fence about it.

Rating – PG for heavy themes and mild language

Haatchi and Little B by Wendy Holden

Synopsis – This book tells the story of Owan, a boy who suffers from Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, and Haatchi, a dog who was run over by a train. It tells their journey to find one another.

Thoughts- The story of how they found each other is very touching. Haatchi goes through quite an ordeal before he finds a forever home. I always find it amazing how dogs can have such an impact people’s lives. I did find the book a little dry at times as the author gave the book more textbook like. I did like the descriptions of what Schwartz-Jampel syndrome was as I had never heard of it. What this pair has gone through is astounding.

Rating – G

Cannot wait to hear from you! What books have you been reading?

Anna