Archive for July, 2010

July 25th, 2010

The War Lovers by Evan Thomas

by Gwen


Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898

This isn’t the Teddy Roosevelt that you studied in high school. Teddy Roosevelt, you know the guy that said, “speak softly and carry a big stick” and called everything “Bully”. Teddy, was the Rough Rider that went on safari to Africa after his presidency, bringing back loads of game that are still stored in the Smithsonian. You see a completely different side to dear old Teddy in The War Lovers.

You see, T.R. was a product of his time and at that time, society and even most scientists still believed that all races were not equal. Both Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge regarded blacks as inferior, but they fought for them to get equal rights as citizens. Honorable for the time? Sure, but totally self-serving when it came to invading Cuba in 1898, which is the subject of this book.

Roosevelt, Lodge, & William Randolph Hearst were all after the same thing in 1898, freeing Cuba from Spain. The difference is that they were war crazy for different reasons and honestly, it is debatable whether any of their reasons were good for the future of America. Flying the flag of Manifest Destiny, these three concocted, finagled, went behind peoples backs, and just plain conned America into a period of Imperialism that really hasn’t ended to this day.

What’s amazing about The War Lovers was the interactions. The people knew how to talk with beautiful language, even when they are busy putting you in your place. Many of the quotes made me laugh out loud. It was so full of their words that it was like living history. It is what made the book special, the intimacy that Thomas develops by using letters back and forth to each other and speeches from the stump.

The book was shocking in its portrayal of Roosevelt. I was disgusted when I read his views on people of color until I really started to put it in the context of the day. That attitude was the norm, it would have been strange for him not to be a racist then.

Should you read it? Well, like I mentioned, the quotes made this book not only interesting, but entertaining. It was thought provoking and I couldn’t help compare that period to the time right before we invaded Iraq the second time. The whole country was stirring, we wanted revenge, we were arrogant enough to think that the people of Iraq rather have us rule than Sadaam. Only future historians will be able to responsibly judge us and I fear what their verdict will be.

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031600409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316004091


July 23rd, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me) ~ I’ve Got the 411, You Need It?

by Gwen


A Bit of Me(Me) is hosted by There’s A Book and it is a great excuse to get out from behind the book and share a bit of ourselves. She asks the question and we answer them.

This Weeks Question: Tell everyone a bit about your very best quality or talent!

My boyfriend, Art, happened to be in the room as I pondered this question so I asked him. I know, it was a stupid thing to do. Much like asking your man if he thinks that those pants make your rear look big, asking a man what he thinks your talented at is a minefield.

His first answer was singing. Hmm, just how often have I been serenading him when I didn’t realize it because I had my headphones on?

I told him to try again. I wasn’t going to tell everyone that I could sing. That would mean telling them how I paid for part of college by singing in a dive bar frequented by very short Asian business men. Then I would have to tell them that I paid for my voice lessons by doing my vocal coaches laundry. I am not going to share that.

His second answer? Research. I like that one better because I know that I rock at researching everything and anything.

  • You need to know the average temperature of Kalamazoo during the 3rd week in July? There’s a Gwen for that.
  • You want to know if there is a better deal out there for that TV you are buying? There’s a Gwen for that.
  • You need a great Italian restaurant on the west side of Chicago? There is a Gwen for that.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. I have a pretty good memory and when you combine that with mad searching skills, there is an app for that and that app is called Gwen. I’ve got the 411.

So, what is your talent?



July 22nd, 2010

Got Books? Giveaway ~ The Alchemy of Murder & More!

by Gwen

Got Books

If you haven’t heard about Got Books?, check it out and come back. I’ll be here when you get back, if you get back. (insert evil laugh here) You still here? Well that means that you are a book blogger and if we haven’t met, Howdy.

Up for grabs on at Chew & Digest is a SIGNED copy of The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary. She saw my review earlier this week and offered to sign a copy for the winner. Isn’t that cool?


I also will sneak in the ARC of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway.


I will keep it short and sweet, there is a lot going on tonight. To enter, leave a comment. I will pick a winner at midnight on Saturday night/ Sunday morning.


July 20th, 2010

Show Your Love of Handmade

by Gwen

When I am not reading, but should be cleaning or cooking, you can often find me creating or trolling for ideas of what to create. Here are some of my finds this week from


Ocean Esprit Gold Leaf Necklace, by Original Muse, $22


Jane Austen Dish Towel, by Brookish, $11


Bird & Books –Gooco Screen-Printed Journal, by Two Guitars, $8


A Library Series (photo print), by Lumikha Studio, $50

That is it for this week. What have you found? Do you have a favorite artist or etsy seller?


July 19th, 2010

Review ~ The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary

by Gwen

Reporter Nellie Bly is on the trail of a despicable madman and she garners a lot of famous help along the way. Set during the 1899 World’s Fair in Paris, The Alchemy of Murder is a historical tale of murder, mayhem and mystery that will keep you turning pages at a fast clip.

Bly is after the man who murdered a friend she made while undercover at Blackwell’s Asylum. Knowing only the name he went by at the hospital, Dr. Blum, she trails him to London where she investigates the similar Jack the Ripper killings. She loses the trail there, but picks it up again in Paris, the City of Light.||Bly realizes she needs influential help and introduces herself to none other than Jules Verne for assistance. He grudgingly joins the search which leads them to need the assistance of Oscar Wilde and Louis Pasteur. The poor are dying in droves in the slums of Paris and it will take all of their combined geniuses to put a stop to it.

While this may sound farfetched, it is beautifully set and completely believable. If you enjoyed Caleb Carr’s The Alienist or the film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this debut work is right up your alley. It was one of those books that was sad to say goodbye to when I was done.

Want to read it? I will be featuring it in a giveaway this weekend for the GotBooks? event, so stay tuned.

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765322036