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I just finished reading Rawhide Down by Del Quentin Weber, a reporter for the Washington Post. The book is about the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan March 30, 1981 outside the Washington D.C. Hilton hotel. It reads like a thriller even though we all know the outcome.

Weber has a unique way of following those involved: the E.R. trauma team at George Washington Hospital, surgeons, nurses, Mrs. Reagan, White House staff, Vice President Bush, the President's cabinet, Secret Service agents, FBI agents, D.C. police and, the shooter, John Hinckley, Jr. He weaves a tapestry of 24 hours in the people whose lives intersected that day.

The month of March always brings out the Irish in me, and I have just enjoyed two books set in Ireland: the audio version of Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Girl and the print version of Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie.

The first is read by John Keating and it is delightful to hear his variety of Irish accents, changing for each character. This book is the latest in Taylor's Irish country doctor series and fills in the background of the doctor's housekeeper, Kinky Kincaid. In Minding Frankie, I love the continuing saga of Binchy's residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent, in Dublin. She skillfully interweaves the lives of a diverse population and makes the reader want it to keep on going. I can't wait for the next book in either series!

Shawna's great article about blogs was too extensive to feature in its entirety in our Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Connections, our elementary education newsletter. So here is the unabridged version.


“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” First Amendment to the US Constitution

“The basic foundation of our democracy is the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression. The Opposing Viewpoints Series is dedicated to the concept of this basic freedom and the idea that it is more important to practice it than to enshrine it.”

Every book in Greenhaven Press’s Opposing Viewpoints series begins with this simple statement. This series is perfect for anyone hoping to better understand the timely issues and debates we hear about in the news every day. Each book focuses on one controversial issue and features essays from notable voices from every side.

Joe Sacco is a Maltese-American comic artist and journalist that forged a name for himself by combining his love of drawing comics with his journalism education. While traveling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he eventually wound up in the Middle East and did a series of comics called Palestine. After his travels in the Middle East, he visited Eastern Europe (specifically Sarajevo and Goražde in Bosnia) and chronicled his experiences there during the Bosnian War in books such as Safe Area Goražde.

Sacco’s works combine his journalism training with cartooning and his razor sharp wit. His works have earned him widespread recognition and accolades including the American Book Award, the Eisner Award and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

As a first-time homeowner and big fan of DIY, I am desperate for good solid advice on how to get things done in and around our new home. How exactly do you install an interior door? What’s the best way to choose paint colors? How long should the grass be cut? How often? Can we build a deck ourselves? How hard is it really? Above all of these concerns is the big question – How will our home and landscaping best fit our family’s personality and lifestyle? How do we want to live?

When Australian reporter, Sarah Turnbull, was in her twenties she decided to take a year long leave of absence from her job and travel around Europe. While in Romania she had a chance encounter with a French attorney named Frederic. They had only one dinner together in a group of other people, but hit it off, and Frederic invited Sarah to visit him for a week or two in Paris. She hadn’t planned on going to Paris – but, her logic was that she was out for adventure; she liked him, so why not pursue it and see where it took her.

Military history buffs will be fascinated by Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman (940.547252 NOR New Book). It offers many new insights into this infamous World War II event. A must read.


Outside Magazine sent Jon Krakauer to climb Mt. Everest in May, 1996, so he could gather information to write an article on how commericialized the climbing of the mountain had become. They got more than they bargained for. The weather on Mt. Everest that May was one of the worst ever, resulting in five climbers being killed and one marred for life.

Krakauer writes an astonishing first-hand account of those events He is critical of himself as well as the others who were climbing. Such a sobering occurrence in which several seasoned climbers were killed left Krakauer trying to put the puzzle pieces together to help explain why this tragedy happened. He comes up with several theories that are disturbing and give one pause for thoughtful consideration.

Elizabeth Gilbert had nothing to lose. She had both a failed marriage and relationship behind her. She was desperate to leave the U.S. and search for what was out there for her for the rest of her life.

Fortunately, her publisher agreed to give her an advance on the book she would write, so, off she went to Italy, India and Indonesia for a 15 month adventure. Afterwards she wrote "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia".

In Italy, she ate. In India, she prayed. In Indonesia, she fell in love.

The story is inspirational on several levels. She saves the best for last. The more your read, the better it gets. There is a satisfying ending.

In 2007, English soccer star David Beckham announced he was signing a five year contract with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. This move shocked the soccer world in that MLS is generally considered a "B-League" on the world stage and Beckham was then plying his trade with Real Madrid, one of the elite super clubs of the world in one of the world's elite soccer leagues. Part of Beckham's reasoning was that he wanted to help soccer grow in the United States and eventually become on par with football, basketball and baseball in terms of popularity.

To understand Stieg's work, I said, one had to know who he really was.--pg. 185

I picked up this book yearning to learn more about the author who died before his novel legacy was even published. That fact in itself intrigued me; I just really wanted to learn more about Stieg Larsson's life from an unbiased source. With this relatively short biography, you get the straight facts--no beating around the bush, just the candid and honest facts--from the one constant presence in his life: Eva Gabrielsson.

"Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolutions. But in Estonia, song was the weapon of choice ..." - Filmmakers James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty

Check out the real story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the focus of the new George Lucas film, Red Tails:

Dogfights Season Two


The Tuskegee Airmen

When I picked up Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift’s book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, I didn’t realize that it was a cookbook based on a Public Radio show. All I cared about was the gorgeous spoonful of a bright golden yellow potato, onion and almond concoction (“Almond-Turmeric Potatoes” p. 289) pictured on the cover. I am a huge fan of Public Radio, though, so when I finally settled into a comfy chair at home and made this discovery, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve never heard a food show on the radio before (WBHM doesn’t carry it) but it makes me happy to know one is out there.