Another Challenge - What am I thinking?

I was never one to turn down a challenge (especially when I know I can do it) so when I was visiting Pudgy Penguin Perusals, I noticed that she had a challenge that is hosted by Not enough books to read at least 6 cozy mysteries between April 1 and September 30th. I couldn't turn this one down since I already read 5 in April and have at least 20 more on my list. I'm going to start fresh in July so I';m not counting the ones I already read (though they do fit in the time frame). This challenge should help me get out of the history mode and into cozies!


Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War by Robert B. Ekelund Jr.

Read: June 23 - June 26
Format: Trade paperback 132 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble
Setting: USA
Category: Who/What/When/Where/How/Why? - Bios/history
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, RTT, TIOLI, BOSC
Stars: 2½

The Civil war was a highly complex event in history and observing how economics impacted the nation should enlighten the reader. For 136 pages this was pretty heavy reading. I'm not expecting other casual readers to pick up this book so therefore this review will be somewhat detailed.

Tariffs had been a major issue prior the war. The South wanted low tariffs while the North wanted high because of the difference between the agrarian society in the South and the industrial in the North. Throughout the early 1800's the tariffs fluctuated to keep the sections happy. Toward the end of the 1850's the tariffs were running high.

When the book moved on to the discussion of Blockades, it became a bit more interesting (flashes of Rhett Butler). The Majority of the discussion was about the different commodities and how the blockade runners chose to bring over luxuries rather than necessities because of higher profits.

The south injured themselves by not controlling prices of goods brought through the blockades. If they had had more necessities they may have been in better position to withstand the Union forces.

Inflation was the main issue for the downfall of the Confederacy. Financing a war can be done in several ways or a mixture of ways - taxation, borrowing, confiscation, conscripting, and inflation.
Borrowing from foreigners to buy foreign goods, protects the economy and spreads the costs of the war over more years. However, getting loans can be difficult if the lenders doubt the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. The Confederacy borrowed very little.

Conscription/Confiscation was also used little by the Confederate government because of the political dissatisfaction of those affected - compelling labor and capital out of its citizens with reduced compensation for such, didn't bode well in the South.

During the war, labor and capital were redirected from normal processes to military purposes. Labor forces went to fight the war and death and injuries reduced current and future production. Production went from civilian goods to military requirements - i.e. plows to cannons - and capital goods were switched to military use - railroads.

The government of the Confederacy issued new money which distorted prices and wages while hiding the cost of the war and giving an appearance of prosperity. Studies have shown that the Union also used inflation but not as much and that printing "greenbacks" increased the cost of the war by $528M. The South's rate of inflation in the 4 war years was 100%.

In the North, Abraham Lincoln attempted to moderate the impact of inflation and created his own "New Deal" during his administration. Some of the legislation he enacted was related to the first Income Tax, Homestead Act, land grants for Yosemite as well as the railroad, National banking Acts, and regulation of mail delivery both Urban and by Railroad, while modifying the central government to include the Department of Agriculture, Comptroller of the Currency, National Academy of Science, and the Office of Immigration.

There were many effects of the war - emancipation was primary but there was also the establishment of the US as a global power, 3 amendments to the Constitution(slavery, citizenship, suffrage), intercontinental Railroad, industrial revolution. While these were improvements there were also detrimental effects such as decreased workforce, financial and commercial ties severed, fallow farmland, reduction of assets for the Railroad and shipping industries.

My editorial would read that the Introduction is filled with so many 5+ syllable words that it would turn off the general reader. The main work was way too stuffy and high-handed and reads more like a thesis than a book for the general public. I think that it should be noted that scholars or economists may find it fascinating, the general reader would most probably not even get to Chapter One. That said, I'm still glad that I read it so that as I get farther into my Civil War reading I will understand the background of this impact.


A Nook

Okay, I can't believe I did it. My husband, Tim, got his semi-annual bonus and told me that since B&N had reduced the price of the Nook, to go get it.... and I did! I'm still trying to figure out all the ins and outs but I am now an owner of a an E-reader! Will I ever get anything else done besides reading?

I guess it was my day for a Nook because besides the E-Reader, Tim also finished putting up the bookshelves in my reading Nook - so I got two Nooks in one day.


1858: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and the War they Failed to See by Bruce Chadwick

Read: June 7 - June 12
Format: Hardback 300 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble
Setting: USA
Category: Who/What/When/Where/How/Why? - Bios/history
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, RTT
Stars: 2½

1858 was a turning point leading up to the American Civil War. So many issues were beginning to come to a crisis point and the leaders that should have taken action were looking elsewhere. Jefferson Davis was fighting a health crisis, Robert E. Lee was dealing with family issues and trying to decide whether to leave the army, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses Grant were trying to find a way to make a living. At the same time Abraham Lincoln was trying to get elected to the Senate but Stephen Douglas stood in his way.

President Buchanan didn't exercise the "proper" influence. He worked to prevent Stephen Douglas' re-election which helped to bring Lincoln to National recognition. He also was attempting to increase the presence of the USA as a global authority with offers to buy Cuba from the Spanish and efforts to annex portions of Mexico and other Central American and South American nations. Buchanan had eyes on expansion and refused to acknowledge the problems related to the slavery question.

Several events by other individuals and groups acted as a catalyst. John Brown got into action, William Seward, senator from NY, gave several volatile speeches against slavery (“It {slavery} is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation or entirely a free labor nation.”), and a group of individuals openly thwarted law enforcers of the Fugitive Slave Act.

All of these actions and issues put together propelled a divided nation toward a Civil War that killed hundreds of thousands. Could it have been averted? We will never know.

I thought it was very interesting the way that the author had each of the events/individuals sectionalized very much as the North and the South had issues by section. However, I had difficulties with the title for several reasons. First, Ulysses Grant was hardly in this book, second, nowhere that I saw or read was there anything to explain a "war they failed see", third William Seward played a large part in this book but wasn't in the title, and lastly Buchanan's shortcomings were identified throughout the book, but he also wasn't in the title. I think a better title would have been - 1858 and the Men and events that provoked a war. But I'm sure the title was chosen because Lincoln, Grant, Lee's names would get your attention.



Read: June 16 - June 20
Format: Trade Paperback 300 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble
Subject: hostile takeovers, stolen art,
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book
Category: Niagara Falls - Overflow Category#9 Books found - Internet/thru LT/library/bookstore
Genre: Fiction
Stars: 4

In the second installment of the Lumby series, the little town of Lumby is thrown into an upheaval when the priceless painting of the Barns of Lumby (considered a national treasure) by Dana Porter is stolen while in transit to the London Museum. Reporters descend on the town to get background for the story of the year.

Mark and Pam Walker's B&B is filled to capacity by the reporters who arrived determined to drag out any little morsel of scandal that can even remotely be associated with the theft to garner "a scoop". However, Lumby and its residents stand firm in their uniqueness and eventually the reporting mass sinks away.

While the story centers on the art theft and its effects on the town's inhabitants, the reader is introduced to a few new characters. The reader is also reminded of the unusual locale with little scraps of information throughout about Hank, the plastic flamingo, saving a little girl from drowning, the travels of a stone Owl to the Space Needle in Seattle and the Opera House in Sydney, the renovation of a bus stop including skylight, sofa and carpeting, a farm powered by cow manure, and a boat "sailing" down Main Street.

The most amazing part is the truthfulness of lines such as "from the Lumby Lines (newspaper) that it's almost unbelievable that we live in the same country. Their stories (Comparison to NY Times) cover stolen pension funds and murders, and ours are about wiener-dog races and a bovine Iditarod." These characters just see life in an entirely different genuineness which is why the series is so delightful to read and make you want to just laugh out loud. I wish the town Lumby really existed because I'd love to visit not just in books but in actuality.

I was worried that the second book would not be able to live up to the playful scenario that was depicted in the first book, The Lumby Lines. No problem here, the residents in the town just picked up where they left off and continued to amuse and delight this reader.


Wishlist Wednesday

This is a new meme started by Tina at TutusTwoCents showing the books that we are looking to acquire/borrow/read in the future, where we heard about them and why they caught our attention.

Just so I don't get too carried away with additions to my wishlist, I've decided to hold mine to one book here a week.

This week's book to be added to the wishlist is....

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

I noticed this book when I was checking on the title of the third MOAD book and found this one had been released at the beginning of April. I will definitely be looking for this one, maybe sooner than later. I loved the previous 3 books so this is a MUST HAVE!

Thanks, Tina, for a great new meme!


KNIT IN COMFORT by Isabel Sharpe

Read: June 12 - June 15
Format: Trade Paperback 300 pages
Source: Librarything ER program for review
Subject: marriage, knitting, lace,
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book
Category: Crafts, Cooking, and Hobbies
Genre: Fiction
Stars: 3

Knitting is getting a revival, at least when it comes to the themes for books and in this book it is front and center - but in a much more different way - knitting wise. This book is basically two stories intertwined - one of the new friendships forged by Elizabeth who is searching for comfort in Comfort, NC and the other of Fiona from the Shetland Islands in Scotland who is the great grandmother of Megan (Elizabeth's new friend).

Fiona's story tells of unrequited love of a young girl in Scotland. She is threatened by the existence of Gillian, a beautiful temptress, who steals her love, but after his loss, joins with her rival to learn lace knitting of a special kind. This is the skill that Fiona passes down through her female relations.

Elizabeth has a dream where her grandmother tells her to find 'comfort' so she sets out and ends up in Comfort, NC renting a room from Megan. The story weaves through the lives of Megan's knitting group (the Purls) revealing different issues and how they are handled in diverse and interesting manners.

The lace knitting is the thread that weaves the story together and eventually ties the past and future in a positive manner.

The writing had some difficulties - the beginning was a bit confusing while the reader tried to determine who all the characters were and how they were related, and some of the romantic aspects were a bit trite, but overall, an enjoyable read.

The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan

Read: June 15
Format: Audio 3 CDs equivalent of 160 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Greek Mythology
Category: Niagara Falls - Overflow from I Heard them!
Genre: Fantasy
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, Audiobook, SYLL,, TIOLI
Stars: 3

This book is a continuation of the Percy Jackson saga and gives the reader a few short stories relating adventures of Percy before the final installment to come.

It was fun to see old friends and see the three children of the major gods - Zeus' daughter Thalia, Hades' son, Nick, and Poseidon's son Percy working together to prepare for the final battle against the Titans. The interviews of some of the characters made them appear in more realistically human rather than demigods.

I'm ready now for the Last of the Olympians!


The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

Read: June 7 - June 12
Format: Trade Paperback 339 pages
Source: Harper Collins for Review
Setting: London, England, UK
Category: Niagara Falls - Overflow Category#9 Books found - Internet/thru LT/library/bookstore
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book,
Stars: 3½

This book is the 7th installment of the Maisie Dobbs adventures. She is contacted by a couple from America, the Cliftons, who are trying to resolve the circumstances of their son's death during WWI. Michael Clifton had enlisted as a cartographer and been listed as missing until they received word that his body had been found buried in a tunnel along with the cartographers that he had been working with. However, the autopsy showed that he was not killed in the line of duty but was murdered.

As the story progresses we see Maisie's processes working to determine who was involved in Michael Clifton's life and how at the same time as we see changes in her life and the people that she treasures.

The book is well-written, interjecting historical points as well as some historical jargon while not bogging down the plot and characters. Many readers are probably acquainted with Maisie Dobbs, I myself had started a book last year but had to return it to the library before it was finished so this really was my first Maisie Dobbs mystery. I can tell you it won't be my last. I'm going to be searching for the previous adventures of this character.


NO, I DON'T WANT TO JOIN A BOOK CLUB by Virginia Ironside

Read: May 31 -June 10
Format: Audio 7 CDs equivalent of 318 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: getting older
Category: I Heard them!
Genre: Fiction
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, Audiobook, SYLL, TIOLI
Stars: 3

Mary Sharp has decided to keep a diary as she approaches the big 6-0 and in her writings tells of her issues with creaking bones, becoming a grandmother, a friend's death, and sex in the golden years.

Mary embraces this milestone in her life with the changes of her status as a general senior citizen and is thrilled with the birth of her first grandchild. She adamantly professes that people at her age shouldn't be interested in sex until she sees a new man on her horizon.

The stories in Mary's diary are told with humor and truth. I certainly hope that in a few years when I reach this milestone, I'll do it with as much grace.


Book accessory to review

Last year about this time I was contacted by the friendly people at CSN Stores and asked if I would be willing to review a bookshelf in exchange for the product. Being an avid reader, I jumped at the chance for more bookshelves and received a now FULL 4 shelf unit.

Now they have asked me if I would review another item and after browsing many of their sites, (and having a hard time deciding on one item - they had everything including a bathroom sink ) I have selected a Lap Desk with Flip Top Drawer and Foldable Legs. I'm hoping it will be just what I need when I want to read in bed. It’s so cute and it shouldn’t take up too much space. I think I will slide perfectly between my night table and bed so that I'll have easy access to it when I want. Can’t wait to get it, stay tuned to hear how it works! If you are looking for something, check out CSN Stores and see what they have to offer.


Knit one, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

Read: June 1 - June 7
Format: Paperback 273 pages
Source: Public Library
Setting: Fort Connor CO
Category: Crafts, Cooking, and Hobbies
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL
Stars: 3½

For me, this was a pleasant little cozy mystery that I could carry around in my purse and pick up whenever I had a few minutes to read. It wasn't rocket science, but it was interesting and entertaining in the manner of most cozy mysteries.

Kelly Flynn is called back to Fort Connor, CO to settle the estate of her Aunt Helen who was murdered in what the police say was a robbery gone bad, but too many little things don't add up to that scenario for Kelly and she convinces her aunt's friends to help her resolve those discrepancies. IMHO, the clues were well-spread out and the characters were interesting. I hope to see in future installments further character development for all the different personalities - some you wanted to laugh with, others you wanted to hug.

Another Mailbox Monday!!! Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. This is a feature where we all share with each other the exciting books that showed up at our doors this week. WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and ever-growing wishlists!!
At the end of last year I was lucky enough to win at book on Librarything's ER program called Menu fr Romance, I really liked so I have kept an eye out for the other two books in the series.
I got them this week, YEAH!

The series is called The Brides of Bonneterre and they are lighthearted romance with very little explicit sex. Looking forward to them both.



Read: May 12 - June 6
Format: Hardback 583 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Political issues leading to Civil War
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, Chunkster, SYLL , RTT
Category: Who/What/When/Where/How/Why? - Bios/history
Genre: History

Americans have heard much about the Civil War and how it started over slavery and the attack at Fort Sumter but after finishing this book, the reader realizes that the Civil War was about so much more.

In this book, which spans the era of time from 1848 when Zachary Taylor was elected President after the Mexican American War to the first shots at Fort Sumter in 1861, the deluge of information concerning the issues of the time can often be overwhelming. The Southerners were concerned about the apparent efforts of the Northerners to prevent them from continuing their society in the manner of the day and the Northerners were trying to prevent the spread of slavery into the territories.

The reason that the book starts with the time period after the Mexican American war is blatantly obvious because of the additional territories acquired in the settlement from Mexico. The political arenas of this era were filled with Northern Abolitionists, Southern Secessionists, and all manner in-between. As the political battles raged, "the South became increasingly a closed society, distrustful of isms from outside and unsympathetic toward dissenters".
Yet the decisions made by the states to attempt secession were not simply n the spur of the moment as sometimes implied by historians, but was discussed and threatened on numerous occasions for several decades. After Lincoln's election 120 days elapsed before his inauguration ad during that time, the southern states held numerous conventions to determine their "plan of attack" to the situation. In the time that it took Lincoln to get from Illinois to Washington, the Southerners had held their conventions and created a provisional government and elected Jefferson Davis as their President.

What was the Union doing you ask? President Buchanan was trying to be peacemaker (unsuccessfully) and Lincoln was waiting for his "power". As President-Elect he had none. After taking office, Lincoln had to deal with the various factions and determine his stance and political reactions to the Southern states that had "seceded".

The crisis had arrived and had to be dealt with and Lincoln set about to do just that. His policy was that the Union needed to be preserved at any cost and thus civil war was thrust upon a nation.

So much information to absorb but I'm hoping that this background will help when I move forward from this time period to the actual war itself.

I knew that there were alot issues related to the Civil War and so I asked someone who I thought was very knowledgeable about the era what book to read. JOYCEPA of the ClubRead group told me that this was one of the best and I want to thank her for the recommendation.