I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

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Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Kensington (September 26, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1496712528
ISBN-13: 978-1496712523
Price:  Amazon $11.10

Rating:  3 out of 5 Stars

By the publisher:

As the daughter of a respected general, Elizabeth Schuyler is accustomed to socializing with dignitaries and soldiers. But no visitor to her parents’ home has affected her so strongly as Alexander Hamilton, a charismatic, ambitious aide to George Washington. They marry quickly, and despite the tumult of the American Revolution, Eliza is confident in her brilliant husband and in her role as his helpmate. But it is in the aftermath of war, as Hamilton becomes one of the country’s most important figures, that she truly comes into her own.

In the new capital, Eliza becomes an adored member of society, respected for her fierce devotion to Hamilton as well as her grace. Behind closed doors, she astutely manages their expanding household, and assists her husband with his political writings. Yet some challenges are impossible to prepare for. Through public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, she is tested again and again. In the end, it will be Eliza’s indomitable strength that makes her not only Hamilton’s most crucial ally in life, but also his most loyal advocate after his death, determined to preserve his legacy while pursuing her own extraordinary path through the nation they helped shape together.

My thoughts

coming to this novel knowing little else about Hamilton, other the duel with Burr and the fact that he started the Bank of New York, I was eager to learn about him and the woman who he chose to share his life with.

The author did a great job at setting the scene.  I enjoyed learning about the gowns, the house in which Eliza had grown up with her family and the love that surrounded the family.  The love which surrounded Eliza and her siblings was palpable and the author did a great making sure the reader understood that.  It was obvious that the book was very well researched and there were many “nuggets” that I walked away with which, had it not been for this book, I would have never found out.  Let’s just say they are not the things we learn in school.

Eliza, was a feminist in her time.  As a matter of fact, most of the women, it appeared to me, were feminists.  In their own quiet way these women influenced the outcome of many circumstance and there were many lessons to be learned from them on how to get one’s point across without being rude or obnoxious….. that fact was not wasted on this reader.

At times I was in awe of the friendship and love between Eliza and her sister but I also could not get past the fact that some of it may have been due to jealousy on Eliza’s part.  I don’t know if on purpose or not, but at times I couldn’t help but feel that Eliza regretted at times not having married a rich man.  It was obvious that their love was immense and they lived for each other.  However, at times there were flecks of jealousy in both of them.

Hamilton spent most of his time in the book going from turbulence to turbulence and trying to impress everyone while Eliza was either pregnant and using her pregnancy as a way to manipulate her husband — well at least twice.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame her but it was not what I wanted to be reading about.

The first half of the book was great.  I flew through it devouring every word the author had to say.  Towards the middle of the book I became impatient.  It felt as if the same scenes were being repeated over and over again and there were things that happened through out and characters that were introduced and nothing came of them.  There were times when I felt Hamilton was being a spoiled brat and one who could not take any criticism and would go to any length to revenge people at the expense of everyone.  It’s not as if I felt he didn’t love her…. the fact that he loved Eliza was very obvious but it was not an unconditional love.  It was a dependent type of love.  I felt as if she would have been ok without him, it felt to me as if he would be lost without her.  I also started to get annoyed at how Eliza kept putting herself down.  For the love of God woman — grow a back bone and a sense of who you are.  It’s clear to the reader that Eliza was an amazing woman in her own right but when she kept putting herself down I felt angry instead of sympathy.

I am not sorry I picked up the book.  Perhaps I expected too much from this book considering the hype about Hamilton.  I gave it a solid 3 stars and would have given it 4 had it not been for a few typos and the repetitive issues I mentioned above.  I think that if the reader is interested in women’s issues and feminism this is a good book.  It’s quiet but it gets a point across.  It’s educational in a way that it goes through all the challenges of the wars and not just the battles.  There is hunger and disease to deal with.  There is discussion of how finances are bad and how Hamilton devised a plan to repair the United States’ credit and, although all these topics are discussed it’s still an interesting read.

I was given this book for review.

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3 Best Book Podcasts

What do you listen to when not reading? I’ve never been one to listen to music.  It’s not that I don’t like it.  I like music and I enjoy all types of music but I find that I gravitate towards words.  Where as music is something I tend to listen to when I’m with a group of people and feeling up and energetic, words are what I seek when I just want to be alone and enjoy some “me” time.

I think I’ve mentioned here before that listening to book is a futile exercise for me.  I wind up rewinding and/or deep into the book realizing that I have no idea how I got  to that point.  I get distracted and forget to listen.  There are always a million thoughts going through my head and sometimes …. ok most of the time …. they are louder than the narrator’s voice.

Having said that, I do enjoy podcasts.  They are shorter and with breaks in between the voices they tend to bring me back from my distrating thoughts much quicker which affords me the opportunity to be more present.  So, my queue on my iPhone has a few book podcasts that I tend to listen to when commuting to and from work.  Here are 3 of the ones I am enjoying lately.  Let me know if you have others I can add to my evergrowing list.

Book Riot

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Book Riot is a weekly news and talk show about what’s new, cool and worth talking about in the world of books and reading.

Reading Women

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The Reading Women podcast is a bi-weekly show where women discuss books by or about women.

All the books

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It’s a weekly Book Riot show of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases.  I really enjoy the back and forth between the two women on the show.  Although I have not read of the books they talk about on the show I find their discussions to be really enjoyable.

 

 

 

The Address by Fiona Davis

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The Address by Fiona Davis
Published by Penguin
Date of Publication: August 1, 2017
Hardcover

Publisher’s Summary:

Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.

My Review:

This my first novel by Fiona Davis and I can promise you that is will not be the last. I saw this book on the list of “read for review” books on NetGalley and I immediately requested it for review. The cover, which I hope is the one the publisher settles on, drew me in and being that in the past few months I have been fascinated with the 19th Century in New York, this was a no brained for me.

The story revolves around one of the most famous or infamous buildings in Manhattan, one where many celebrities still live, the same one where John Lennon was shot…. One that still today stands tall and is visible from Central Park (see the cover). The Dakota….. it’s 1884 and it’s about to open and Sara Smythe came all the way from England to work and live there and found herself in love with one of the architects. But it’s more than the story of a woman and a man. This is the story of one family, of love and deception, of what secrets can do to a family and of forgiveness and the need we all have to belong and sometimes no belong.

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The author does a great job at working two stories in parallel. At the same time we are reading about the story of Sara and her architect in 1884-85 we are also being shown what is going on in future surrounding the descendants in 1984. The comparison of the Gilded Age and the age of Wall Street and material girls having fun, was not lost on me.

The twists and turns were plenty: throughout the book I felt like I knew what was going to happen at every corner and then the author would turn in a completely different direction and everything would be different. A few pages later, the same thing would happen. I would be feeling like I was totally in control of the scene and bam!!!!!! I was again slammed in a totally different direction. I was hooked. I couldn’t put the book down. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for my day to day job I probably would have read the book in one sitting. The language is not flowery or poetic as I have often mentioned in previous reviews. It’s instead raw and honest. The type of voice that hits you right in the core and you cannot help but pay attention.

If there was one part where I felt the book was predictable, was the very end. The hero gets the heroin and all is well in the world…… I’m a bit tired of that but, I cannot think of a different way bring the story to a close so I can’t fault the author for this one either. It’s our own fault for always wanting happy endings….. Yeah, I like happy endings even if they’re predictable.

Although the story takes place during the Fall/Winter and there is mention of snow, I feel as if this is the perfect Summer read. I gave this book a 4 1/2 stars only because as I mentioned the ending was predictable. I cannot wait to read more by this author and add this book to one of my favorites of 2017. Going to recommend it to everyone I know.

I hope you enjoy this review.  Until the next one…..

XoXo

The Dakota Building – New York City

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A few days ago, as I was perusing books for my August TBR, I came across The Address by Fiona Davis, the author of the Dollhouse, I could not resist but request to be sent a copy for review.  I received my review copy this past week and quickly started devouring it.  The Address is scheduled to be published on August 1, 2017.  The review will be coming soon enough but I wanted to share a few “crazy” facts about this amazing building which still stands and functions today on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park.

  • The building opened in 1884;
  • Some of building’s most famous residents:
    • author Harlan Coben,
    • U2’s Bono,
    • Rex Reed,
    • Jack Palance,
    • John and Yoko Lennon
    • Rosemary Clooney,
    • Connie Chung,
    • Maury Povich

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  • The building was reported fully rented before it even opened.
  • The building had no vacancies for 45 years after it opened.
  • The building has no fire escapes – it’s reported that the Architect Henry J. Hardenbergh purposely avoided fire escapes by slathering mud from Central Park between the layers of brick flooring to fireproof and soundproof the building.
  • The apartment where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived is rumored to have $30,000 buried under the floor.  The resident prior to John and Yoko buried it.
  • It has an in-house power plant which can heat every structure within a 4 block radius
  • Just because you’re a celebrity, you are not guaranteed acceptance as a resident.  Some famous applicants that have gotten rejected are:
    • Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas,
    • Cher,
    • Billy Joel,
    • Madonna,
    • Carly Simon,
    • Alex Rodriguez,
    • Judd Apatow,
    • Tea Leoni.

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This information and photos from an article in Business Insider.

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

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Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York
Published: November 1, 2016
ISBN-10: 0374238588
Hardcover – 272 Pages

Rating:  ***** (5)

About the Author:   (From Amazon.com) Kelly Luce is the author of the short-story collection Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, which won Foreword Reviews‘s 2013 Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction.

A native of Illinois, she holds a degree in cognitive science from Northwestern University and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a contributing editor for Electric Literature. She lives in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

Right off the bat this book pulled me in…. Nevermind under.  Actually, I feel as if I’m missing something since I don’t really understand the connection between the title and the story — if you know and figured it out, please share it with me.

Let’s talk about the cover, shall we?  Amazing cover designed by Abby Kagan.  To me it speaks of the many faces we all present.

Some people show the same face to everyone; others, lime my father, are gemstones, constantly turning to display the most advantageous façade

The book follows a woman, Rio, as she tells us the story of how she arrived in America and under what circumstances.  Her story is one of pain and feeling of not belonging.  I think most of us can relate to this feeling at one time or another in our lives.  What’s different about Rio, is how she handled herself when faced with those feelings.

We meet Rio when she was still Chizuro Akitani, a hafu (half person) while living in Japan.  The daughter of a prominent Japanese violinist and an Irish mother.  We meet Chizuro at the age of twelve when she was a student and being bullied at school.  We all know that pre-teen years and teen years are probably the most difficult.  Tomoya Yu, one of the boys at school chose Chizuro to be his “victim” and bullied her incessantly.  The bullying took the form of name calling, touching, and eventually, pranks which caused physical pain.  That last time was the straw that broke the camel’s back and when Chizuro reached a tipping point.  She stabbed Tomoya Yu with a Moritomo letter opener which she took from her beloved English teacher’s drawer.

She was incarcerated at the Kawano Juvenile Recovery Center and from the age of Twelve through the age of twenty one, she was property of the state.  Her life at Kawano felt more normal to her.  She was still a “half person” but there, the names were different and others living at Kawano had other issues they were dealing with and her being a hafu was not what made her stand out.  At Kawano, she was more like the others.  She sort of blended.

blending in is a necessity just like shelter or food.  The biggest thing wrong with me was my mixed blood

At the age of twenty one, Chizuro was able to leave Kawano and became Rio, and flees to America where she applied for and was accepted to college and lived her life as an American in Colorado.  There she met her now husband and they had one daughter and everything was going well, actually great, it seemed.  Until the time she learned of her father’s death and went back to Japan.  At her father’s funeral she connected with her old English teach, a woman from New Zealand, who was always her protector.  Her trip to Japan, after twenty years of living in America, was like a dream where she was forced to face all the demons of her childhood.

Kelly Luce’s writing puts the read in Japan, along with Rio.  I was able to feel her anxiety and was unable to stop reading at times, other times I felt compelled to put the book down and take a breath.  For chapter after chapter I felt as if I were holding my breath and waiting to turn the next corner.  Along with Rio the reader is forced to take in moments in life when we, too, must present different personas in order to survive, be accepted by others and ourselves.

The characters came to life throughout the books and, although at times I was unable to understand Rio’s thinking I felt compelled to sympathize with her.  When faced with a cross roads, she didn’t always take the “right” path but for her it was all she was able to see.

I read this book in one day, which is really rare for me.  All through my reading I found passages that could have come right out of anyone’s diary.  What do I do when faced with a request from a friend and there is no right or wrong path to take.  The old “damn if you do and damned if you don’t” type of scenario.

How do we forgive, when there is so much hurt?  As human beings we are selfish but why?  are we selfish out of survival or are we just selfish because that’s just who we are? Most of us are self centered the same way that Rio was, which was the reason she was not able to see the reason why things were happening around her.  Sometimes due to her blind selfishness she was unable to see the pain in others.  She ran away from what?  herself or others.  The book explored all the deep feelings which cause us to do the things we do and think the thoughts we think.

I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.  I enjoyed every minute of it and was even a little sad when it ended.  I usually pick up another book and start reading and this time I was unable to do that.  I am still afraid the next read is not going to measure up…. unfair to the next author, I know, but…. Let’s give it a shot.

Until my next review.  Happy Reading!

Ana

Favorite Books of Famous CEOs

I don’t know about you but I am always interested in what others have on their reading lists and what they enjoy reading the most.  Especially those who are touted as being leaders in their communities.  The firm I work with always puts out a “reading list” and every year I patiently wait for that to come out to add some books to my ever growing TBR.  I don’t know for certain that I will ever read them but it’s fun to see what others find interesting.

I thought I’d share a list of what famous CEOs enjoy reading.

 

Jeff Bezos – Amazon CEO

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it turns out that according to an interview given by Jeff Bezos he claims to learn more from fiction than non-fiction.  I tend to agree that sometimes that is the case with me as well.  There are so many topics that fiction covers that learning from it is not as far fetched as it seems.

Bill Gates – Previous CEO of Microsoft

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I’ve never read this book but according to Bill Gates this is a very clever novel.  He read it when he was 13 and it’s been his favorite since then.

Tim Cook – CEO of Apple

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According to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, this book is completely worth your time if you want to work smartly.  According to an interview he’s been known to pass this book out to friends, co-workers and new employees. Hmm this is one to go on my TBR for sure.

Mark Zuckerberg – CEO of Facebook

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If you can recall, Mark Zuckerberg put together a list of 23 books and one that I found the choice of this one very interesting.  I’m not sure I’m interested in reading it (not sure if it says anything about me).

Richard Branson – CEO of Virgin

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For some reason I’m not surprised that Richard Branson enjoys Maya Angelou’s poetry.    This poem particularly speaks of freedom and the feeling of being free…. It’s so Richard Branson.  I would have been shocked if it weren’t on his list. By the way, this is also Bill Clinton’s favorite book.

I hope you enjoyed this short list of books and let me know if any of them are of interest to you.  Have you read any of them?  Will you be reading any of them?  Are you surprised by the choices made by these famous CEOs?

Happy Reading

Ana

Books I want to read in August

 

As I have mentioned on more than one occasion I am not the fastest reader in the world.  So, while most book bloggers are creating TBR lists for the next week or even for this month.  I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I’m going to read the books I have on my table to read in July so that hopefully I can get new ones in August.

Book Riot just published the new releases for July so I thought it would be a good opportunity to see if I want any of them but…. in my case in August.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemons (Publising date July 11, 2017)

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The cover is beautiful.  I have never read anything by this author but I’m always willing to discover new authors.  For what I was able to understand from the blurb in the Book Riot blog the book is about a woman trying to deal with the death of her mother.  I think this will be a nice, read dealing with something I know a lot about.

The Witches of New York By Ami McKay ( Publishing date July 11, 2017)

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Another author I don’t know much about…. actually anything about.  I was intrigued by the fact that it appears to take place in New York and since witches are always strong female characters…. I’m game.  Another one for the August TBR.

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris (Publishing Date July 18, 2017)

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Another author I’ve never heard of — I really have to stop reading all classics and move on to the 21st century — This is a thriller about a woman who on the way home from a party notices a car on the side of the road with a woman inside.  She wants to get home so she doesn’t stop.  The next morning she learns that the woman in the car has died.  The blurb reminds a bit of The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, which I read last year and enjoyed so I’m thinking I will enjoy this one as well.  We will see.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Published date August 22, 2017)

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So this may be a September read, but I have to put it not he list now, just in case.  I saw the review on Savige Reads blog and watched his review on You Tube and I’m sold on it.  This book was short listed for the Bailey’s Prize.  In my opinion, it actually sounds better than the winner, The Power, which I will also add to the list at some point.  The story takes place in Nigeria between a couple, husband and wife, the husband’s family and the village.  It sounds like a story about culture, love, marriage, family and disappointment and most of all a story about how people deal with all of the above.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

In Addition and outside of the new releases from The Book Riot:  I am expecting my book of the month from my Book of the Month Club The Windfall by Diksha Basu.  The story of a family in India who win a lot of money and move from their poor village to where the rich folk live….. sounds interesting.  I can’t wait to read this one as I think it will be the perfect Summer read.  Expect a review on this one.

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I will keep you all posted as to which ones I am actually able to read.

Until then…. Happy reading

XoXo