Reviews

How to Get Rid of a President by David Priess

Title: How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives
Author: David Priess
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication Date: 11/13/2018
Classification: Nonfiction, Politics


Every president’s time in office is fleeting and, willingly or not, they’ve each had to turn power over to the next person. After two terms, President George Washington, the original, happily stepped aside upon the election of John Adams. William Henry Harrison wasn’t so lucky, becoming the first president to die in office after a mere thirty-one days. For each person who assumes the great position, it’s much less a question of when they’ll leave, but, rather, how they’ll leave.

Author David Priess explores this expertly, considering how each of the previous forty-four presidents have ultimately left the highest office in the land. The result is a compendium of vignettes suggesting the typical transition of power in the United States has been anything but peaceful. Impeachment remains the most obvious way of removing a president, but it remains one of the least used methods. After all, Richard Nixon resigned over the pressure from growing bipartisan calls for his impeachment. And George H.W. Bush was knocked aside during his reelection bid—the most democratic was of removing a president.

Reading about the more famous stories are fascinating, but Priess excels when he gets deep into the research of less obvious cases. He breaks the book up by listing the various ways a president can be removed, ranging from losing an election to being declared unable to serve. The latter section is particularly startling. His portrait of Henry Clay, who consistently lost out on the presidency through various circumstances, also deserves special mention. For being so brief, it’s deeply effective.

It’s hard to imagine this type of book being releasedwithout the current backdrop in American politics. For anyone hesitant to pickup another book featuring forty-five, it should be noted that he’s onlymentioned briefly, though he creeps over each page. The good news is that,within these pages, it becomes apparent that we’ve seen serious tribulationsbefore and we always manage to get through them. The only question is, how?

Author’s Website | Goodreads


Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

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Reviews

A Dad of His Own by Minna Howard

40879272Title: A Dad of His Own
Author: Minna Howard
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 08/21/2018
Classification: Romance


Anna and her seven-year-old son, Freddie, are living a dream: house-sitting a castle over the Christmas season. However, not everything is perfect. What Freddie wants more than anything is a father after his own tragically died in a car accident before he was born. As the two settle into their new community, Anna begins to wonder if there’s a special someone who could help with this Christmas wish.

Author Minna Howard has crafted an incredibly sweet winter tale.

There are a lot of wonderful characters lurking around the village, and the most enjoyable parts of this novel are when Anna and Freddie mingle with their neighbors. A flood destroys portions of the town early on, requiring neighbors to come together for a successful Christmas. This sense of community works beautifully and is really the essence of the story that Howard returns to in scene after scene.

And, of course, there aren’t many things more charming than a castle during winter.

Some of the action is drawn out, and there are moments that could have been trimmed. Some of this stems from Anna’s inability to make solid decisions, causing some reputation as she goes over events. However, the great setting and fun characters kept things moving, making for a fun book.

Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Author’s Twitter | Goodreads


Note: I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Reviews

Secrets and Scones by Laurel Remington

Title: Secrets and Scones
Author: Laurel Remington
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: 11/06/2018
Classification: Middle Grade


Scarlett’s mother is a mommy blogger like no other,constantly writing about every moment in her daughter’s life for the world to read. So, she hatches a plan to become totally boring, depriving her mom of new material. However, when her elderly neighbor is rushed to the hospital after a fall, leaving her cat wailing for food, Scarlett discovers the glorious next-door kitchen practically begging her to bake. But can she really keep her cooking(and a new friend) a secret?

Author Laurel Remington has taken the idea of technology and youth and flipped it on its head. Rather than a lamentable screed against screen time and teens, she focuses on its impact on parents. It works and it’s completely relatable. Whether a parent posts about their children on a major blog or just to their private social media, it’s incredibly easy and popular to overshare in a way that can be mortifying for young adults. This is such a refreshing and relevant take on the issue.

It also helps that Scarlett is such a great character. Since her plan has caused her to go introverted, outwardly she could appear rather boring. However, Remington takes advantage of telling the story from her perspective. Her inner thoughts are funny, insightful, and completely developed. Whether Scarlett was learning how to bake scones or going through the awkwardness of trusting her new friend, Violet, I was invested. She sounds like a teen.

While food carries the story (and sounds delicious), to unpack here about relationships. Scarlett struggles with her mother, and this drips into other parts of her life. She mistrusts the people around her, for fear they’ve read the dreaded blog. As she becomes close to her neighbor, Mrs. Simpson, part of what pushes the relationship is her focus on food rather than on Scarlett. It’s a delicate situation, and Remington handles it masterfully, allowing each of the characters to evolve naturally.

Not to suggest that it isn’t difficult along the way. Part of the charm of this book is that Remington does not shy away from the difficult, particularly over the last half of the book. But a little love and some great baked goods can always help the mending process.

The problems are real, the scones are delicious, and this book is divine.

Author’s Website | Goodreads


Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Reviews

A Village Affair by Julie Houston

514hXMkLcjLTitle: A Village Affair
Author: Julie Houston
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 11/06/2018
Classification: Romance


Cassie Beresford seems to have everything. That is until the charity auction where it’s publicly revealed her husband has been cheating on her with her best friend for the past two years. Then she’s suddenly promoted to head teacher with no notice. Oh, and the fields in her tiny village are targeted by developers intent on mass housing. Though feeling overwhelmed and defeated, Cassie rises and tackles the challenges, all while balancing great friends, two teenagers, and maybe even new love.

Some books utilize a slow burn, opening softly, letting readers get used to the new world. Author Julie Houston does not use this technique. Instead, the opening pages practically explode out of the book, with a very public revelation of Cassie’s husband, Mark’s, affair. It’s tragic and biting, but it’s also tinged with the humor the humor that’s abundant throughout the rest of the book.

And it’s deeply funny. My copy is littered with highlights because there are just so many sections that made me laugh. Cassie is a likable, relatable character, and much of this stems from her scenes as an educator. Here, Houston writes with beautiful honesty, and anyone who has ever felt insecure in a job will immediately find a companion in Cassie.

A bit of a posh woman moving on from her husband and learning to love herself is enough book for anyone, but Houston presses on with a fields plotline. Edward Bamforth wants to build new housing the fields, against much of the village’s wishes, and things are further complicated when romantic interests are piqued between two characters. A different author could have completely muddled the wonderfully intricate threads, but Houston seamlessly weaves the action around Cassie’s ultimate development.

I do want to give special mention to Julie Houston’s positive discussion of sexuality in this book. Early on it becomes apparent that Cassie’s teenage son, Tom, is questioning his sexuality. It’s handled in a deeply sensitive way that I think, overall, could be a guide for parents. I was personally very pleased to see this type of inclusion and I think it’s one of the best portrayals of Questioning youth where it wasn’t the focus of the book.

This book is a bit of a roller coaster. Infidelity is a difficult topic, and the aftermath is rarely neat and tidy. However, Houston knows how to manipulate a story so that the reader is always on their toes as characters struggle and jest toward their own answers. The result is a wickedly funny read with heart.

Author’s Website | Goodreads


Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Reviews

The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm by Erin Green

Dm0GbrVW4AEmGc-Title: The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm
Author:
Erin Green
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 09/04/2018
Classification: Romance


Three different women. Three different stages in their relationships. Annie is hoping to rekindle her former marriage, Nina wants to avoid the holidays and men after the recent death of her father, and Holly, still in school, is just starting with her first boyfriend. Love is certainly in the air as these women’s lives buck and weave against the backdrop of a winter wedding at the magical Christmas Tree Farm.

This put me right in the holiday spirit. A winter romance with a tree farm backdrop? How could it not?

What I love about this book is how deeply complicated each of these characters are. Angie and her son have a rocky relationship after her divorce, and their scenes together are some of the most effective. Similarly, Nina’s response to the one year anniversary to her father’s death is effective because of how realistically it’s treated. And that’s a common theme in this book. Author Erin Green had me totally immersed in each of these three worlds.

This isn’t to suggest this book is all sad situations. It’s endearing and a little heartbreaking, but it’s also a lot of fun. I found myself smiling a lot, and there are a couple of laugh out loud moments— particularly a scene involving Angie and a misplaced blouse.

Overall, this is a really strong romance with a lot of great characters and an enchanting setting.

Author’s Website | Goodreads


Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

Reviews

The Best Man by Richard Peck

28251377Title: The Best Man
Author: Richard Peck
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: 09/20/2016
Classification: Middle Grade


Sometimes there are books that are so full of joy that none of their flaws really matter.

Archer Magill is growing up fast in a Chicago suburb and he’s on the lookout for role-models. He certainly has plenty to choose from: his car-loving father, his architect grandfather, Uncle Paul, who’s all-around amazing, and Mr. McLeod, his new fifth grade teacher. Everyone loves him. While Archer knows he’s surrounded by some pretty great guys, he struggles seeing the important stuff right in front of him. So it comes as a bit of a shock when he’s offered the chance to be the best man at a wedding for two of his role models. Of course, that’s getting ahead of things…

The book is pretty episodic in structure, and Archer tends to crash from section to section, primarily with the help of his best friend, Lynette. Works under this structure have to be exceptional to hold my attention. But Richard Peck was such a master of character and situation, it doesn’t matter.

Part of this is because Peck hones in on a heightened sense of what children experience. Most of the scenes are farcical. At one point, Mr. McLeod becomes an internet sensation, resulting in adoring fans casing out the school in droves. It’s handled with intense humor that skews into unrealistic, but it works because it’s Archer’s perceptions.

This also makes some of the more serious moments much more impactful, particularity a scene that hones in on bullying. But that’s middle school. One minute, you’re laughing at the absurdity of it all. The next, you’re crushed.

Certainly, one of the biggest points in this book is its handling of gay marriage. And boy, it’s joyous.

It’s romantic. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It’s just an all-around celebration, and something that’s been absolutely necessary in kidlit.

Author’s Twitter | Goodreads


 

New Catalog Record

New Catalog Record: Speechless

38659072

Happy Book Birthday to Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt! Its call number can officially be found in libraries everywhere, meaning you can grab your own copy starting today.

Check out my review here.

From the publisher:

As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. Why him? What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? He can’t recall one birthday party, family gathering, or school event with Patrick that didn’t result in injury or destruction. As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard.

How do you give a eulogy when you can’t think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.

Author’s Website | Goodreads