Sunday, April 15, 2018

Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg

Title: Movie Nights with the Reagans
Author: Mark Weinberg
Read by:  George Newbern with an Introduction by the Author
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 6 hours and 29 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster.  Thank-you!

Author Mark Weinberg was the former Press Secretary and Special Advisor to President Ronald Reagan.  He was with him for all eight years of Reagan’s term and also worked for him in California after his Presidency had ended. Weinberg loved working for Reagan and especially loved their weekend trips to Camp David where they enjoyed movies nights together.

This book had a very interesting concept.  It discussed the Reagans and the presidency within the frame of different movies that the author watched with the Reagans on the weekend at Camp David.  It was unique and I felt a very enjoyable journey through the 1980’s in film and politics.  I also enjoyed when they would watch vintage Reagan films and discuss how they were made.

I loved hearing about how Reagan was so considerate and thoughtful of staff.  He would travel and celebrate Christmas the day after Christmas so the staff could all be with their family on the holiday.  He also would retire to the night with Nancy to allow staff to go home for the night.  He sadly also had to give up buying cards personally for Nancy and attending church weekly.  He didn’t want church goers to have to go through metal detectors and for the church to become a target.

Reading about Reagan’s common courtesy, thoughtfulness, and real love for the people made me very nostalgic for past times.  I know I probably think of the 1980’s with rose colored glasses as that was the time period of my childhood, but I wish that we could have such a president again.  I may not agree with all of his policy decisions, but Reagan was a great leader and a great man.

It’s been awhile since I had read anything about the Reagans and I had forgotten that the assassination attempt was so early in the Presidency.  It was a very scary experience and it was interesting to learn more about it.  I especially loved the author’s disregard for Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan book which this author stated was full of inaccuracies.

I liked how the book talked about the love between the Reagans and the life that they had after the presidency.  The author had a very unique experience.

Narrator George Newborn was an excellent narrator and I really enjoyed the introduction by the author himself.  This was a great audiobook to listen to on my commute!

Overall, this was a truly enjoyable audiobook with a unique premise.  It ended too soon for me – I wanted to listen to more!

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara Lareau Illustrated by Matt Meyers

The Infamous Ratsos is Penelope’s April book club pick for the Bookworms Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library for children from 1st grade through 3rd grade.  Penelope loves going to book club and also loves selecting new books to read afterwards.  My mother-in-law Gert takes Penelope to book club at 3:30 PM after school since I’m still working.  Penelope loves to come home with a pile of books afterwards.  We read her official book right away this time as last month we waited until the last minute!

The Infamous Ratsos is about two brothers, Ralphie and Louie Ratso, who want to be tough just like their Dad.  They go through a series of escapades where they try to do naughty things that they think will make them look tough, to only end up accidentally doing good deeds instead.   The book was pretty funny and had great pictures.

The part Penelope and I liked the best was at the end of the book when their father, Big Lou, learns about all of their good deeds and they talk about how they want to be “tough” like their Dad.  He talks about how they should not be like him, but that he should be trying to be more like them, able to take care of themselves and find the time for good deeds.  He says it’s been tough trying to make it after their Mom has been gone.  “Being tough all of the time is so. . . so. . . tough, “says their father.  
This book made me laugh and I’ll admit slightly emotional at the end.  It was a fun read for Penelope, but I loved that it had a message.

Overall, The Infamous Ratsos is a fun book with a big heart.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton (TLC Book Tours)

Two sisters who couldn’t be more different are bound together through one hurricane summer by the two young daughters of one sister.  

Betsy lives on a farm with her husband Ty in Alabama.  They are updating the farm to provide educational opportunities to children and are trying to make it in a world where dairy farms need to grow and change to keep up with the times.  What both Betsy and Ty really want is a child, but after five years, they have faced disappoint through the years as hope turned to sadness as they are unable to conceive.

Betsy’s younger sister Jenna has always been the wild impetuous sister to Betsy’s responsible one.  Jenna is trying to turn her life around with being a single mother to her two daughters Addie and Walsh.  She’s the manager of a coffee house, but dreams of going back to her true passion, photography. When she gets the chance to go to the Halcyon Artist Retreat in Florida with all-expense paid, she is overjoyed. Will this be her chance for a better future?  What will she do with her girls?

Jenna decides to drop her daughters off with Betsy and Ty for what is supposed to be two weeks but turns into a longer visit.  Will Jenna be back for her beloved girls?  How do Betsy and Ty feel having the girls when they so desperately want children of their own?  Has Jenna thought about their feelings?  How do the girls feel?

The story is told through the viewpoints of Betsy, Jenna and Ty.  I liked the revolving narrative and thought it did a great job of telling the complete story.  I like how from Jenna’s perspective, she’s trying to work on a better life for her and her daughters, but from Betsy and Ty’s perspective she is being insensitive to them and not a stable parent to her daughters.  Isn’t that how it is in life?  Every situation looks so different depending on who is looking at it.

I also love how the hurricane is wrapped into the narrative, especially the climax to the story.  I enjoyed Denton’s previous novel, The Hideaway as well.  She does a wonderful job of writing characters and their challenges in a wonderful Southern setting.  I need to read more of her books in the future!

Favorite Quotes:

“I see children.  I hear laughter.  I see a childhood spent outside in the heat and air and light.  I see our future.”

“Part of her wanted to blame it all on her parents, but she was old enough to know that was a weak excuse.  She’d made her own choices.”

“Yet it also left behind unexpected beauty and bursts of new life.  A tiny green shoot pushing through the garden soil.  Hope shining like a beacon in the dark places.”

Overall, Hurricane Season is a riveting southern family drama.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tours.  Thank-you!  For more stops on this tour, check out the tour schedule at this link.