Congratulations ~ 3 Great Books Giveway Winners

congratulations6Random.org gave me the magic numbers, which were 7, 26, 14, 11, 8, 27, 32, 9, and 22.

Congratulations!

7 Florinda (3R’s) ~ The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson

26 Sandra K321 ~ Girls in Trucks, by Katie Crouch

14 MM~ Girls in Trucks, By Katie Crouch

11 Wendy (Caribousmom)~ The Turnaround, by George Pelecanos

8 Staci (Life In The Thumb) ~ The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson

27 Jennifer C ~ The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson

32 Lethea ~ The Turnaround, by George Pelecanos

2 Mindy ~ The Turnaround, by George Pelecanos

22 Tiffany (Olympian Lady) ~ Girls in Trucks, by Katie Crouch

I’m sending an e-mail your way.

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Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy Shaffer – Book Review

the-obama-revolutionThe Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
Publisher: Phoenix Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Format: Trade Paperback, 266 pages

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer’s new book, The Obama Revolution covers a lot of ground. It is literally  jam packed with coverage of the beginning of Obama’s campaign for the presidency through his swearing in- has a lot of examination of  the rhetoric of the campaign, speeches and proposed policy of the new president. Kennedy-Shaffer worked behind the scenes as a regional field director for The Democratic Party and Barack Obama in Virginia and also helped to organize field campaign offices in North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Even though some of the main selling points of the book were the explanation of the 50-State Strategy and the way that the Obama campaign was able to organize so many young people to mobilize the field offices and make the campaign a viral one, there is so much more that is offered here.  The first couple of chapters delve headlong into an examination of the policies that Obama planned to change or new ones to be implemented, along with quotes from his speeches that supported his plans.  There is also quite a bit of comparison between the various presidents who have been influences to Obama or to whom he has been compared- like Andrew Jackson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, and how Obama had to switch his campaign tactics from an emphasis on hope to one of change, and provide detailed the plans and procedures for implementing his policies for the parts of the country where there was more of an interest in the nuts and bolts of his plans.

The book had a false start for me when it began with the explanation of the policies that Obama planned to implement.  I was overwhelmed to be reading all of the proposed policy changes, especially since there wasn’t much back up as to how they would be accomplished.  It was a bit too much like reading a list and difficult to sort through because everything ran together for me.  Luckily that only went on for the first couple of chapters.  Kennedy-Shaffer excels when speaking about his experiences in working on the campaign.

When starting out in Virginia, he drew on some of Obama’s own writings about his efforts at community organizing in Chicago.  When Kennedy-Shaffer started out barely had an office to work from or any supplies or volunteers.  His first attempt at outreach produced only thirteen volunteers and his next effort was hardly more successful, but slowly he was able to talk to the community and get people more involved by using them to talk to each other. They expended a huge amount of energy and effort in registering first time voters and getting apathetic voters to be more involved.  I loved seeing how the small communities pitched together to outfit the office with supplies, and how the volunteers would prepare food to feed the volunteers and workers in the office.

Another thing I really loved was the bonus collection of Obama’s speeches at the back.  The book is worth a read just to have the text of those speeches alone, especially after the book has put a lot of the key moments and turns of the election into focus.  The enthusiasm and admiration that Kennedy-Shaffer had for Obama and the campaign showed through in his writing and the amount of research that it took to create such a thoughtful book. The 50-State Strategy breakdown is wonderful, and easily understood.

I would definitely recommend this one who has an interest in learning about the procedures of the new campaign strategies that were developed and implemented during Obama’s campaign.  I am sure that we will be seeing more of this kind of strategy in the future and it will be interesting to see how the now proven theories will play out in future elections. Kennedy-Shaffer’s enthusiasm and depth of knowledge about Obama is vast and it was so interesting to see his observations about the campaign and his experiences from working in the field offices.  I was touched by quite a few of the stories that he included.

The Obama speech collection at the back is a big plus.  My only reservation would be the sheer amount of information that is packed into this book.  Without the speeches it’s only about 160 pages, and they are dense and at times can be a little dry, but given the other content it’s well worth wading through if you have any interest in politics, Obama, or the campaign process.

alan-kennedy-shaffer1About The Author: Alan Kennedy-Shaffer served as a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia. Educated at Yale University and William & Mary Law School, Alan is the author of The Obama Revolution and Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq. His writings have also appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Patriot-News, the Daily Press, the Virginia Gazette, and Scoop08. Alan lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

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Follow Me, by Joanna Scott – Book Review

follow-meFollow Me, By Joanna Scott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: April 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages

Sixteen-year-old Sally Werner gives birth to  a baby boy in the summer of 1947 and leaves him on the table in her parent’s house not 48 hours after giving birth. And so she begins the habit of running away which will follows her, causing her to change the outcome of her life in ways that she can’t begin to imagine.  Flitting through a series of incarnations as Sally Angel, Sally Mole, and finally Sally Bliss, Sally follows the Tuskee River north through a series of small towns where ever the optimist, she tries to grow and make a better life for herself while obsessed with sending money back home to help in raising her baby boy.

Even though Sally meets with a number of good people who help to buoy her inherent optimism and belief in herself,  she also continues to be haunted by not only the mistakes of her path and the baby that she left behind but the more current problems that she has with the father of her second child, a daughter whom she names after friend Penelope. Her past finally catches up with her when she receives a visit a person she never though she would see again, but when she decides to find and face the truth, will she do more harm than good?

Joanna Scott’s writing is intriguing and I really liked the way that she constructs her character driven novel, illustrating the consequences that family secrets and running away can have over the course of several people’s lives.  Weaving back and forth through time, the story is told through several points of view, though the overarching narrator of the story is Sally’s granddaughter and namesake Sally. She is the one who pieces together all of the different perspectives to put together the complete story of what happened between her grandmother, mother and father.

Sally starts her story in the middle, on the night when her father jumps off of a bridge and into the rain swollen Tuskee River.  When he inexplicably doesn’t drown, he leaves town the next day abandoning his pregnant girlfriend, whom he had planned to marry. Over the course of the novel different characters share their pieces of the puzzle through conversations, letters and cassette tapes. I was fully absorbed in the differences between their voices loved the way the pictures I had of their lives expanded with each additional piece of information that came to light.  Most of the story was told from the perspective of Sally’s grandmother, Sally Bliss, who is struggling to deal with her the demons of giving up her child, and reconciling what she has done with the strict way that she was raised by her immigrant German parents.  She spends her lifetime not only trying to make amends monetarily and by doing the right thing but in looking for forgiveness.

There were a few places in Sally Bliss’ narrative where I had trouble with the stream of consciousness style that pops up with Sally, and the voices in her head- it was slow going for me in some spots, but this was balanced by the richness of her character and it helped me understand the nuances to her and why she ultimately acted in the way she did. Everything revolves around her and the other character had no alternative but to live their lives as a result of her choices. There was so much about her to empathize with- she dealt with so much that was difficult in her life, but at the same time you really want her to get it together as you slowly start to trace the damage that is being done to so many of her loved ones.

This was an absorbing novel with a wonderful mystery at its heart.  I really got to know Sally Bliss before I was plunged into the intrigue, and as it all started to come together I couldn’t wait to see what unfolded.  I think that fans of character driven stories who also like a good mystery will really enjoy this one.

joanna-scottAbout the Author: Joanna Scott is the author of nine books, including The Manikin, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Various Antidotes and Arrogance, which were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and the critically acclaimed Make Believe, Tourmaline, and Liberation. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Award, she lives with her family in upstate New York.

This post is part of a blog tour that’s going on today for this book.  Be sure to check out some of the other sites for more reviews and giveaway opportunities.

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Have you reviewed Follow Me, by Joanna Scott? Please e-mail me your link or leave it in the comments, I’d love to have it here.

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Guest Post~ The Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer wrote the book The Obama Revolution, an intriguing look behind the scenes at the 50 state election strategy and the  grassroots movement instrumental in the election of President Barack Obama.  Alan graciously agreed to write a guest post for Linus’s Blanket. Check back for my review tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s a peek at what Alan has to say about his new book and about his experiences with the 44th President of the United States.

A New Era

alan-kennedy-shafferWhat is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.”

With these words, Barack Obama accepted the mantle of leadership and became the 44th President of the United States. Seizing gladly the responsibility to lead our nation through our generation’s darkest hour, Obama committed himself to a new era. Standing on the Capitol steps, Obama issued a call to arms that resonated around the world. Obama cannot change the world alone. Together we will succeed.

With the Dow reaching 12-year lows, unemployment rates reaching record highs, and the housing market and financial institutions heading toward Great Depression levels, now might not seem like the best time to “speak frankly and directly” to the American people about the nation’s economy. That is exactly what Obama did in his Inaugural Address on January 20, and what he did in his address to Congress on February 24:

If we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed…‘something worthy to be remembered.’”

Barack Obama’s new era of responsibility flows, as if by a guiding hand, from the greatest campaign in American history. Engaging millions of Americans in the task of reaching out to their neighbors, organizers in every state reached out to volunteers and voters from all walks of life and stirred something powerful in the American psyche. As a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia, I had the opportunity to work on the front lines.

In The Obama Revolution, the first book about Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign written by someone who actually worked on the campaign, I describe meeting Obama several times in various places. I have shaken Obama’s hand in Washington, DC, in Richmond, Virginia, and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But it was my first encounter with Obama, before his candidacy began, that is indelibly etched in my memory:

I first met Obama on May 18, 2005, in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Meeting Obama convinced me that he truly believed what he was telling the nation. He made me promise that I would do everything in my power to bring about positive change.

This passage appears in The Obama Revolution along with many other memories of Barack Obama—the senator, the candidate, the president—from a campaign that heralded a new era of responsibility for a generation ready to meet the challenge. Armed with hope and the promise of a new kind of politics, we must do everything in our power to bring about positive change.

The Obama Revolution is more than a campaign. It is the dawn of a new era in American history in which our nation’s beacon will burn brighter than ever. Let us seize the opportunity gladly.

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Read-A-Thon: Finit

So in the end:

  • I read for almost 7 hours
  • Cheered for 5 hours
  • Completed two books
  • Finished more than half of a third
  • Completed a short story
  • Slipped into unconsciousness twice Took two naps
  • Had meals out twice
  • Took one bubble bath
  • Nodded of more times than I can count

Stats:

  • Read for 6 hours and 45 minutes
  • Read 385 pages
  • Completed The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
  • Finished Prayers for Sale, by Sandra Dallas
  • Got 2/3 of the way though The Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
  • Completed The Birds, by Daphne du Maurier (short story)
  • Completed o challenges, tweets, etc and is in awe of those who could keep up
  • Had an unquantifiable amount of fun
  • Is immensely tired, but wired.
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Read-A-Thon: Hour 17

I’m not sure, but I think this is hour 17.  I am still up and reading.

Definitely not the day that I envisioned whne planning for this, but I have had a lot of fun.  Part f the probelem for me is that this has been the most gorgeous day that we have had in a quite sme time and all of my friends wanted me to go out and play.

So far today:

  • I have taken a nap.
  • Gone out for tea.
  • Gone out for a glass of wine.
  • Went out for Sushi.
  • Talked to my mom.
  • I have been  a chearleader for 3 hours.  Everyone is doing great!  Keep up the good work.

Reading:

  • I completed Prayers fr Sale, by Sandra Dallas
  • Read 15 pages of The Cellist of Sarajvo, by Stephen Galloway.
  • Read half of the Obama Revolution
  • Read the menus at the wine bar and at Sushi A Go Go

Goals:

  • I’m about to go and cheer for another hour.
  • Finish The Obama Revolution
  • Read the Birds by Daphne du Maurier
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Read-A-Thon: Hours 1-4: In Which Precious Little is Read

Don’t laugh.  So far I have read a whopping, scale-tipping 21 pages!

I’m in the middle of recording a record, and last night I completed the vocal parts on the first 4 songs!  That has been a log time coming, so I am really happy that it’s done and those four songs will be complete at the end of this month.

So from 8-9:30 I talked to my mother about that.

Then I read from  9:30-10:00.

Then at 10 my friend and her husband called me from downstairs and I had to go and sit in the sun in the little square across the street from my apartment, and play with their dog.

I played cheerleader for an hour from 11-12.

I’m going to read now.  Seriously!

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24 Read-a-thon

I have my bunch of books beside me and I have a drink.  So I am pretty much set for a little while.  The read-a-thon posts are going to be pretty minimal.  No links or anything.  I’m just trying to get the post up.

I’m starting out reading from the bed, because I am not quite ready to leave it yet.  I’m in NYC.

I don’t really have any goals per se besides mostly reading and cheering for the next 24.  If I can do it, this will be my first completion of a read-a-thon.  I tried doing the one in October but came down with food poisoning in the third hour.  Not fun! If I at least avoid that this time around that would be a plus.

I have with me to read:

  • Prayers for Sale, by Sandra
  • The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer
  • The Obama Revolution, by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
  • Follow Me, by Joanna Scott
  • The Brief Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
  • Mother of the Believers, by Kamran Pasha

I also have lots of little fun alternative stuff to break it all up with, if it all gets to heavy.

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The Midwife, by Jennifer Worth – Book Review

the-midwife1Jennifer Worth leaves her home and comfortable middle class existence at the tender age of eighteen  to become a nurse and midwife.  Part of her training is at Nonnatus House, a convent serving London’s poverty-stricken East End, after World War II.  She arrives with no particular belief in God and suffering from the loss of a man whom she never talks about explicitly but whom she loved deeply. While serving a rotation in the East End, Worth encounters unimaginable poverty, and harsh environmental and economic living conditions – all exacerbated by the bombings that have taken place around the city. She has definite ideas and feelings about all that she encounters, but ultimately grows and changes as her training in midwifery, and exposure to the nuns and other co-workers, teach her to go beyond her own limited understanding of others’  circumstances – enabling her  to experience empathy for those who come from different environments, and whose levels of privilege are not as great as her own.

I loved this book! I was hooked immediately by Worth’s voice, which was easy to read and connect with.  She is engaging while at the same very informative.  She gives you facts, but they are never dry. This was one of those stories where as I turned the pages, not only could I not wait to read more about midwifery, the nuns and patients, but also had a soundtrack in my own head going, “this is so good, I can’t wait to see what happens next”.  Strange, but true.

Worth is such a wonderful storyteller.  She is straightforward in her narrative, but also in the way that she presents herself truthfully as the person that she was and the influences which made her into the person that she became.  I think that one of the most valuable experiences that you can get from any memoir is the truth of that person’s experience, and that’s something that is lost when people aren’t able to present a three-dimensional portrait of themselves, warts and all.  Worth succeeds in doing that here.  She descriptively shows her readers what she saw when she entered people’s home and how she felt about what she saw there.  Sometimes she admits to being disgusted by the personal hygiene of her patients and the cleanliness of their environments. Some patients she dislikes as soon as she meets. In her judgment of the things that she sees, she shares her background and how her  religious experiences have been different from the the nuns and others around her.

Her detailed commentary illustrates practices that used to be standard in midwifery, and show how they have evolved to the system of hospital practices present in London today. I was blown away by how different the childbirth experience was, and that just 60 years ago in London, most women were expected to give birth in their own home, and without the presence of a doctor, unless complications were anticipated or the home proved to be an unsuitable birth environment.  Women were also required to stay in bed, at home or in the hospital, for 10 days.  I know that time in the hospital after childbirth has decreased drastically in the past years, but 10 days seems to be such a long time to be immobilized.

As much as I enjoyed the narrator and the narrative, there was  a wonderful cast of characters to be enjoyed.  Sister Monica Joan- always good for a making a little trouble with her high-handed and incorrigible ways, the gentle guidance of Sister Julienne was often an example for Worth as a young nurse and midwife, and the money-making schemes of the convent’s janitor, Fred are just a few of the people whom you’ll meet.  Worth also illustrates her chapters not only with some of the medical conditions that she encountered such as eclampsia, rickets and breech deliveries, but the heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of Len and Conchita Warren, who had 24 children; Mrs Jenkins who mysteriously haunts the places where women give birth; and what happened in several instances when white women didn’t give birth to white children.

Anyway, time to reign this in.  I could  go on and on about all that I learned and the people that I enjoyed.  It’s rare to  read something that I feel like most people I know would enjoy, but this book was so interesting, well-written and real that no matter what you normally read, I think you will enjoy this book. Highly Recommended.

Of interest: Jennifer Worth on Being a Midwife in London’s East End

Read More Reviews At: The Book Nest – The Printed Page

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Tuesday Thingers

tuesday-thingers1 Questions: Have you explored the different styles? Have you customized any of the styles? If so, what are your favorite customized items (isbn, Dewey Decimal, Reviews, Book-Swap, etc)?

This is really turning out to be a valuable meme for me.  I was perfectly happy to let LibraryThing get away with just being a list of my books, where I could post reviews and change the pretty covers.  Who knew you could do all this other stuff? I think I really like the Dewey Decimal version.  So far all the others have tag sections that are too big, especially since I don’t really tag my books with that many subjects.  I plan on going through and re-tagging everything so that there will be even less. I have to look into customizing.  I wonder what the Bookswap option is.  I can’t wait to go around and read all of the other answers.  I find out good stuff that way.

Have you customized the style of your LibraryThing?  If you have, what categories did you include?  If you haven’t, which would you include?

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