Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Alamo, The White House & The Planet Delonese

The setting, whether real or imagined, of a book often plays an integral part of the story. Sometimes the setting provides the backdrop while other times it's almost like another character. 

A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence is part of the Dear America series of historical fiction for older girls. These books are written in diary form from the perspective of young girls living in various periods of history. Line in the Sand tells one girl's story of living in Gonzales when Texas was still a part of Mexico. When Santa Anna's troops arrived in Gonzales to retrieve a cannon, it effectively started the war for Texas independence as the Texians told them to "come and get it (the cannon)!" The story covers the battle of the Alamo and continues through the retreat and the final victory at San Jacinto. The setting of this story is integral to the story as it puts Lucinda in the main areas of conflict as Texas colonists fought for independence from Mexico.

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is a young adult science-fiction book (which I received free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review). This story is set in a future world where a new planet with Delonese, an alien race, has moved in and helped save the Earth after the 4th World War. The Planet Delonese can be seen from earth, but few humans have been invited to travel there. The plot centers around Sofi and her brother who participates in the FanFight, a combination real and virtual sport. Sofi's brother disappears when there's an explosion in the FanFight arena, and she begins a search for him that uncovers secrets and puts her in danger as she hitches a ride to the Planet Delonese with Miguel (an ambassador and seemingly all around ladies man). The mysterious planet and the skycams that record everything happening on earth has a huge influence on the characters. I enjoyed the book; unfortunately, the story doesn't really end, it just seems to stop when Sofi learns another secret. (Apparently there is a sequel!)

The non-fiction book The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House is filled with information the author obtained from interviews with former ushers, butlers, maids, chefs, florists, doormen and other staffers who worked in The White House. She also interviewed former First Ladies Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, and Rosalyn Carter, along with several children of former Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Ford and Reagan. This was a really good read that was well-written, although quite a few anecdotes were repeated. The chapters are grouped by categories: "controlled chaos, discretion, devotion, extraordinary demands, dark days, sacrifice, race & the residence, gossip, heartbreak, etc." The book paints these workers in a beautiful light, very dedicated to serving the First Family (whoever that happened to be at the time). Many of the workers were in the White House through several administrations. Obviously the house itself, with its history and heirlooms and public tours and security and importance plays a huge part in their stories.

There were interesting stories and tidbits about the First Families - President George H. W. & Barbara Bush were among the favorites of many of the workers. There were some difficulties during the Reagan years as Nancy Reagan had the occasional tirade, was a perfectionist, and was very protective of her husband, President Ronald Reagan. There were apparently lots of arguments between President Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with lots of stress during the Monica Lewinsky affair. On Inauguration Day, the staff is responsible for moving the outgoing family's possessions out of the White House and the new family's possessions in during the few hours of the ceremony and festivities. Several staffers shared that the easiest move was when President George W. & Laura Bush moved in as they didn't bring much of their own furniture and they were already familiar with the residence. The book was written during the time President Obama was in office. This was an enjoyable read with interesting peeks into life inside the White House, some of which I'd glimpsed previously in Laura and Barbara Bush's memoires of their years as first ladies.

What settings have been important in the books you've read lately?


  1. I just finished a novel called Southernmost. Not surprisingly, given the title, much of it takes place in Key West. Since we visited there in the last few years, it was fun to visualize the place through the author's voice and my memory. I remember the fifth grade girls loving the Dear America series when I taught. That's the only book in your post I know anything about.

  2. Thanks for book recommendations/reviews.

    Happy Independence Day!


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