Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

Archive for the category “Books”

Another of my favourite books from 2016 is…

…”Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Shenk.

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Y’all, I’ll be honest – I’m going to be lazy with this one and just point you over to here. That is my review I wrote of this book back in March.

But I do have some stuff to add (I’m a chatterbox just like my man Cump was…)

It still remains one of my favourite books about Lincoln. It is one I most certainly will read again. In the months since I’ve read it, I’ve recommended it to numerous people. These are not just people who love Lincoln. In fact, quite a few of them do not know much about him. The reason I recommended it though? Because we were discussing depression and I told them how much this book helped me to understand my own depression. It was the first book that really spoke to me, and as I say in my earlier review, made me feel like “hey, you’re not alone”. I tell them how inspirational the book is and that in knowing that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression (and at a time when it was not well understood) and he managed to do all the incredible things he did. I think a few of them have ended up reading it.

In reading more about Lincoln since finishing “Lincoln’s Melancholy”, I have come to truly realize how much his depression did challenge him and fuel him as a person. When I read about him, I’m always keeping this in mind and it truly has made me see him in a different light. It’s made reading Donald’s bio of “Lincoln” that much more interesting because I read between the lines, as one would say, and will think “Hmm, that could be why he’s being that way”.

The one thing I see the most as stemming from his depression is his empathy. Lincoln had an incredible amount of empathy and I think this is one of the many things about his personality that made him so ahead of his time. The best example I can think of involves General Sherman (I know. Y’all are so not surprised by that…) and just how empathetic Lincoln was to him when Sherman had his breakdown in 1862. O’Connell states in “Fierce Patriot” (side note: if y’all haven’t read that one, you need to. I read it in 2015 hence why it’s not being mentioned as a fav of mine from 2016), his biography about General Sherman, that:

Lincoln had suffered from deep bouts of depression since early manhood (he called it the “hypo”) and it’s likely he [Lincoln] recognized a similar condition lurking behind Sherman’s excessive pessimism. He also must have known from his own experience that these bleak episodes eventually passed and so remained open to giving his fellow sufferer additional responsibility once he [Sherman] recovered.

He goes on to write that “mental illness of any sort carried a tremendous stigma in nineteenth century America, but not with Lincoln when it came to a general he instinctively liked and believed in”

Of course I have to include a photo of my two favourite men šŸ™‚

I could go on with other examples of Lincoln’s empathy but this is one that always comes to mind. And hey, any chance to mention my two favourite men in a blog post is always awesome. #goals #historycrush #hotties

“Lincoln’s Melancholy” did make me feel like I came to know Lincoln better. It very much is a book worth reading, especially if you love Abraham Lincoln and want to know more about him. Depression was very much a part of who he was just as was his sense of humour and his empathy, both of which, I believe, stem from him having depression. I know for myself, my sense of humour has been a sort of defence mechanism against depression since I was very young.

I’ll wrap up my post there. What are y’all reading right now? Better yet, what was your favourite book of 2016? I’ll be posting tomorrow what my favourite book of 2016 was.

Until that time, have a happy Friday, y’all!!

Much love,

Mary šŸ™‚

Favourite Books of 2016: “Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I am a slow reader. I also tend to have five or six books on the go at once (…because ADD. Oh, and I like variety). 2016 was not the year of reading MANY books for me. Honestly, it’s about quality and NOT quantity for me when it comes to books.

I was going to do one gigantic post about my top five books but I thought, why not do individual posts? It seems like a good way to count down to 2017. So, over the next few days, I’ll be posting about my favourite books of 2016.

So, shall we get started? Oh, and they’re all going to be Civil War related books. Would y’all expect anything less from the Civil War fangirl? I think not.

So, here go…

“Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams

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This book cover is gorgeous. One of my favourites.

This is the review I wrote for this book on Good Reads. I’ve added in a few things here and there to the original review.
The story is absolutely beautiful – yes, there are heart breaking moments but at the core of it all is love. I was pulled all the way through by Abbie’s beautiful style of writing. The characters are absolutely unforgettable.

These are two of the main reasons why I love the Dove series by Abbie Williams so very much. Picking up where “Heart of a Dove” (Book 1 of the series) leaves off, “Soul Of A Crow” will draw you in immediately into the world of Lorie Blake and her travelling companions – brothers Boyd & Malcolm Carter, and Sawyer Davis. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Sawyer’s beautiful horse, Whistler. They are making their way their to begin a new life in Minnesota after the Civil War. But along the way the past will come back to haunt them and they will face new challenges.

I’d all but given up on romance when I decided to give “Heart Of A Dove”a try – I wrote about it hereĀ and hereĀ . I was pulled in right from the start. Just like the first book, “Soul Of A Crow” theĀ romance that is real – there is anguish, torment, heartbreaking decisions but of course, above all else, there is love. The bonds of love formed between the characters are incredible and this is another reason I love this series so much.

Abbie is a beautiful writer. She writes in such a way that I become immersed in the world she has created. I can hear the mosquitoes as the Lorie, Sawyer, Malcolm and Boyd sit by a fire, I can see the fireflies, feel the prairie grass beneath my feet. I can hear the horses and picture everything so clearly in my mind. I also feel what the characters feel – I laugh when they laugh, cry when they cry and feel the torment they go through when heart breaking decisions are made. I feel the happiness they feel of being with the ones they love.

The characters have become so familiar to me. I feel I have come to know them so well. When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about them. I adore Lorie. She’s a beautiful, strong female character that has become one of my literary heroines. Malcolm is like a younger brother – so sweet and adorable yet mischievous and always knows how to make people laugh. Sawyer is such a beautiful soul. Oh, and then there is Boyd (with what I imagine is a sexy Tennessee accent and eyes that I could get lost in). I’ll admit I am crushing on him hard. There are also new characters introduced in this book and they are just as likeable as the characters I have mentioned.

Just like the “Heart Of A Dove”, the romance is real and not sappy. This is how romance should be. The deep love between the characters is incredible. And I love when romance starts to blossom between characters because Abbie knows how to write this so very well – the anticipation and buildup is so gripping and real. I also relate to the friendships that develop between the characters.

As a Civil War buff, I also enjoyed the story. Abbie captures the feelings of post-war America – the wounds that are still there and the conflict and prejudices the arise. There is also the personal struggle of the characters that fought in the war and it’s heart wrenching to hear some of their thoughts. But this is yet another thing that makes the story so very real and one of the best I have read in a long time.

I laughed, cried and have grown to love this series and the characters Abbie has created so very much. She writes with so much heart and soul it’s impossible not to get drawn into the world she has created. If you’ve read “Heart Of A Dove” and enjoyed it, “Soul Of A Crow” will not disappoint you. If you haven’t read the series yet, be sure to start with “Heart Of Dove”. If you love historical fiction, you will not be disappointed. Even after finishing the book, the characters are popping into my mind. I am left eagerly awaiting to read Book 3, which is titled “Grace Of Ā A Hawk”. It is due out in November 2017 (ahhh!! That seems so far away!!)

You can follow Abbie on TwitterĀ or check her website. Besides being a talented writer, she’s a wonderful and sweet person.

Okay, y’all that’s all for now! Until next time (which will be tomorrow when I post about another book), hope y’all are doing awesome!

Mary

 

Reason #20 Why You Need To Watch “Firefly”…

My partner and I had a quiet night in. We went out for dinner with my parentals. Afterwards, we played Firefly Fluxx. I won the first round with my boys Mal & Wash…


After three rounds (two of which I won…just sayin’…), we decided “hey, let’s start watching “Firefly” again! ” cause you know, it’s only been two months since my first time through.

Yup…it’s that good.

Now you’re about to find out why I’m blogging about it on my Civil War blog.

Y’all, here it is: “Firefly” is a sci-fi western written & directed by the awesome Joss Whedon. What did Joss Whedon base this amazing show on? Ā “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara. That’s right. This awesome Sci-Fi Western is based on a novel about the battle of Gettysburg. Yup. When my brother told me I was all “WTF?” and I didn’t watch it cause it sounded silly.

But FINALLY I watched it…

And fell in love…

With Mal…

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Oh, damn, Mal…

With Kaylee…

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Kaylee Frye…major girl crush…

And Wash…oh, Wash…

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Hoban “Wash” Washburne…the guy I didn’t realize how much I loved until the end of the series…”I am a leaf on the wind…”

And Jayne…as much of an idiot as he is, I can’t help but love him for that…

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That f&%*ing hat is awesome…

And the whole show. It’s awesome. Y’all need watch it.

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All my loves from Firefly: Jayne, Kaylee, Shepherd, Simon, Inara, Mal, Zoe, Wash & River

And something cool I discovered? I’ve always thought that Malcolm Reynolds was based on union hottie General John Reynolds. Not just the last name but just how Mal is. I’m seeing it more the second time around.

They kind of look alike too

I was looking at info about Mal on the Firefly Wiki tonight and found his birthdate: September 20, 2468

Random, right?

Nope.

September 20th is not random. It is the same day as my Union Rock Star General John Fulton Reynolds was born. Granted, Reynolds was born in 1820 (same year as my man Sherman).

Wow. Cool. Kudos to Joss Whedon.

Watching the first episode the second time through makes me realize how much of the Civil War is woven into this show. That if the Civil War is an interest of yours, watch “Firefly” and after that, the movie “Serenity” because the a-holes at Fox cancelled “Firefly”. And “Serenity” wraps it all up.

But this connection of date of birth between John & Mal? It made the show mean that much more to me. And I thought it was the most awesome thing ever when I found out. Mal is awesome and so is Reynolds.

It’s the little things like that I love about the show. I love how the American Civil War is woven into the show in little ways like that.

Malcolm Reynolds, I believe, is Joss Whedon’s way of paying homage to the Union Rock Star General John Fulton Reynolds.

That’s reason #20 of why you need to watch “Firefly”.

That…and seeing Mal in a bonnet is hilarious…

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“I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you…”. SLAY, MAL, SLAY!!!

As always, thanks for reading.

Mary šŸ™‚

P.S. SHINY!! (Watch “Firefly” and you’ll get this expression)

This might be the cutest Lincoln book ever…

We went to the Henry Ford Museum yesterday. It was awesome. I plan on doing a post about it on here once I get my photos off my camera. For now, check out thisĀ post I did about the Lincoln chair over on another blog I’m part of called historygeekweb.

Anyway, before we went back home, I went to Barnes & Noble, the most amazing place ever (okay, not as amazing as Borders Books and Music was. Y’all remember Borders?). I managed to find what is perhaps the cutest Abraham Lincoln book ever.

Check this out:


The illustrations are cute. And the story is good. It’s a great introduction to Abraham Lincoln for a young child. As an Abraham Lincoln fanatic (and I can’t resist cute things like this), I had to get it. Ā I’m happy to have it as part of my book collection.

The author, Brad Meltzer, is a cool guy. He’s written other children’s books like this Lincoln one, all about various historical figures like George Washington, Jane Goodall, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart.

He also has a series of novels called the “Culper Ring”. I’ve read “The Fifth Assassin” and it was really good. I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series too.

This also is not my first children’s Lincoln book I’ve purchased as an adult. I’ve also got this one too:


It’s a cool story too.

Do you have any kids books that are part of your book collection? Any other kids books about Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War that you’ve come across? Please let me know in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mary

The Whirlwind Journey To Here…

I’ve been interested in Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War for as long as I can remember. Well, since at least six years of age. That’s a long time, considering I turn 34 in a couple of weeks. I’ve been asked a few times, especially since I’m a Canadian, how I came to be OBSESSED with American’s 16th President and the Civil War.

So, I decided to make a video about it. It’s about 18 minutes long. I totally get if you just skim through it or don’t watch it. I also made it for myself because I wanted to start posting videos on here and I’m trying to become more comfortable with doing that. I have social anxiety…this is a HUGE thing for me to be able to do this.

So, a couple things…

  1. The video is very amateur. I didn’t edit it or anything. It’s the raw footage as I shot it yesterday in my basement with my iPad.
  2. I swear a little bit. Okay, sometimes more than a little bit. Just a warning. I start talking and my filter doesn’t always kick in.
  3. I ramble.
  4. I don’t look at the camera.
  5. I’m learning as I go. And it’s been a good experience so far.

So, here’s the video…how I becameĀ a history geek…

Oh, there’s a few things I mention in the video and I’ve posted the photos below, just so y’all have reference to them…

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This is it. The book that started it all for me. I still have it, along with all the other books in the series, in the black hole that is my parent’s place.

The above photos are from my first visit to Gettysburg with my highschool when I was 16. It was an amazing experience.

Oh, and here’s the blog postĀ I mention about when my husband and I went to DC. We got lost in Arlington National Cemetery. If you EVER go on a trip with me, DO NOT let me navigate UNLESS you want to get lost. If that’s the case, by all means, let me navigate. I was born with a broken GPS and I will get us lost.

Oh, and I give a shout out to a few people in my video. I’m taking it down to nerves (and really, I should have sat and made a list), but there are a few other people to mention that follow me on Twitter (and I follow them and immensely enjoy their tweets): Old News Co, Kimi, Roxi, Bob, Ethan, Mike, Abbie. And anyone else…I love y’all just as much! I hate leaving people out…

Oh, and I’d love to hear how y’all became interested into history, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, etc. I always love to hear how people become passionate about the things they love! Feel free to leave your story in the comments!

As always, thank you for reading (and if you watched the video, awesome!). I love and appreciate all of you.

Until next time…

Mary a.k.a Civil War Fangirl a.k.a Miss_Bellatrix

Starting the day…

This is how I’m starting the day: a wonderful book and a good cup of tea in my favourite mug.

  
It’s a grey day outside, damp and cold. I want nothing more than to stay inside, reading and drinking tea. But alas, I have to work. Such is life. I don’t start until 1 so I am going to try and use the time to get some much needed stuff done.

But I decided to take the some time for myself right off and get lost in this awesome book for even just 20 minutes. “Heart Of A Dove” written by Abbie Williams has become my “never want to put down” fiction book as of late. It’s historical fiction set just after the Civil War. It’s wonderfully written and the characters seemed to real to me from the start. I love the lead female character, Lorie. One chapter into this book and I knew it was going to be hard to put down.

I’ll be honest. This is romance and I don’t normally read romance. But I was drawn into the book because it was set post Civil War plus I love historical fiction. I LOVE THIS BOOK! It’s given me a new appreciation for romance novels because it’s so well written. It’s also the first in a series. Book 2 comes out in June and book 3 is due in 2017. I’ll say this too – I have not been eagerly awaiting the rest of the series since Harry Potter! And I’m not even done the first book! I’m also planning on reading Abbie’s other books. She’s a beautiful writer.

Once I’m done this book, I’ll be sure to give my full thoughts. For now, happy Friday. Do you have a book you’re reading today or a book for the weekend ahead?

Roundup of Civil War Books Part 1

I LOVE to read but I’m a slow reader. This is usually cause I have at least three books on the go. I’ll focus on one for awhile, go back to another, and repeat the cycle. As such, it takes me awhile to finish books. For the past year, much of my reading has focused on books to do with Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War. I’ve decided I’d like to post on occasion what books about Lincoln or the Civil War that I’ve read. Maybe occasionally I’ll post about non-Civil War stuff. You know, just to mix it up a bit.

So, I’m starting with five books that I read in 2015 (I did read more than this in 2015 but these were five of my favourites). This was when I really started pursuing my interest in Lincoln and the Civil War. Granted, the interest/obsession/love/major crush, especially with Lincoln, has been there since I was six, I kept it hidden for years because I was actually teased for it at a young age. Anyway, 2015 was the year it all took off, so to speak.Ā Fitting, considering 2015, was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination as well as the end of the Civil War.

So, here are the first five books…

1)”Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman” by Robert L. Oā€™Connell

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I have developed a raging crush on General William Tecumseh Sherman and part of the reason was this amazing, well-written, made me laugh out loud, made me cry, book. A brilliantly human portrayal of this talented general, I couldn’t put this book down. It was well written in a way that was down to earth and quiteĀ humorous at times. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.

Sherman’s life is covered in three parts: Part 1 is Sherman as a Military Strategist. Part 2 is Sherman as a General and his Army. Part 3 is about Sherman and his personal life. All three parts were equally interesting. My favourite part of the book was O’Connell’s description of the March to the Sea. At first I thought I’d find the way it was divided up confusing but it was not that way at all. It made the book and Sherman’s life easy to follow.

This book also made me realize some needs to make a movie or mini-series about Sherman.

2)Ā ā€œTeam of Rivalsā€ by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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The inspiration for the brilliant Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln”. Not only is it a biography of Abraham Lincoln, it also looks at the lives of three of his “rivals”, later turned cabinet members William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates. It’s a very detailed book and a must-read for anyone who is interested in Lincoln. It’s also a book that deserves a second reading. While Lincoln is of course my favourite, it was so very interesting to learn about the lives of Seward, Bates & Chase.

3) “I Am Abraham” by Jerome Charyn

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This is a wonderfully written historical fiction book told from the perspective of Lincoln. It was such a stunning, at times very raw, human portrayal of Lincoln that it became one of my absolute favourite fiction books (next to “To Kill A Mockingbird”). I laughed, cried and felt like I somehow got to know Lincoln better through reading this book. His struggle with depression, his marriage to Mary, his relationship with his sons as well as various other historical figures (General McCLellan being one of them) are all part of this book. It is one I know I will go back and read numerous times because itā€™s a book you can absolutely get lost in.

4) “Lincoln’s Boys” by Joshua Zeitz

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I’ll confess. I think John Hay and John Nicolay were the hotties of their day. They’re super cute. Plus, during Lincoln’s Presidency, they probably spent more time with the President than anyone else did. As such, they came to know him quite well and of course, I wanted to know more about them. It was great to finally learn about these two men who Lincoln affectionately referred to as “his boys”. The book had some laugh-out-loud moments with some of the antics these two got up to, including their partying in Gettysburg the night before Lincoln’s great address. I also loved reading about how Nico and Hay managed to compile all their paperwork from their years with Lincoln and write what became a very detailed biography about him (which I plan to read someday). The two boys led very interesting lives before, during and after their time as Lincoln’s two secretaries. It’s a must read for any Lincoln geek.

5)”The Lincoln Letter” by William Martin

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A great, fast-paced historical fiction about the search for Lincolnā€™s diary. The book flips between 1860s Washington DC to the modern day. I felt like I got to know all the characters quite well and the author writes in such a way that I was able to visualize what 1860s Washington D.C. must have been like. While not a major character, Lincoln is still in the book and William Martin has done an amazing job in bringing him to life. Some of my favourite parts of the book were the ones that involved Lincoln. If you love historical fiction, this is a great one to check out.

So, those are five awesome books I read in 2015. I’ve got three books on the go right now and I’m sure I’ll discuss them in a post at some point:

  1. “Rebel Yell” by S.C. Gwynne
  2. “Heart Of A Dove” by Abbie Williams
  3. “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald

If you want, please comment and let me know what you’re reading, even if it isn’t to do with Lincoln or the Civil War. I’m always looking for new books to add to my to-read list on Good Reads. Also, please feel free to add me on goodreads.comĀ if you’re on there.

“Lincoln’s Melancholy”

The other day I finished what has become one of my favourite books about Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged A President and Fueled His Greatness” by Joshua Wolf Shenk is an amazing book. It’s a stunning portrayal of the 16th President and his struggle with depression, how it shaped him as a person, what coping mechanisms he used and how having depressive insight helped him find the strength to help see America through its greatest crisis: the Civil War.
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I was intrigued to read this book for a number of reasons. Obviously, one reason is because it’s about Abraham Lincoln, and if there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s learning more about him. The second reason is more personal. For my entire life, I have struggled with having anxiety disorder. I don’t recall a time in my life where I wasn’t anxious or worrying about something, usually the littlest things (but, for those of us the have anxiety disorder, those can actually seem like very big things). I’ve also tended to have a more melancholy personality. In my late teens, depression hit me. I’m now in my early 30s and yes, I still struggle with it, anxiety and mild ADD. When I found out this book existed, I knew I had to read it. I had a feeling in some way it might help. Plus: LINCOLN!

“Lincoln’s Melancholy” helped me to understand my own depression as well as depression as an illness. It’s helped me come up with a couple more coping mechanisms (like to keep laughing, which I do a lot of to begin with, but this book reaffirmed for me how important laughter is and how it’s often used by people who suffer from depression as a coping mechcanism).It also showed me what Lincoln went through, which just makes him even more amazing as a person to me. I’ve come away having an even greater love, appreciation and respect for him (I didn’t think that was possible).Ā To know that he struggled too and managed to achieve all he did is just so inspiring and hopeful. Reading the book was also like hearing “Hey, you’re not alone” and “you can get through this”. It also reiterated to me yet again those of us who suffer from depression see the world differently than those that do not. And that’s okay.

Shenk did an incredible amount of research for this book. While the book is shorter when compared to some of the other books about Lincoln I’ve read, I feel like I Ā learned more about Lincoln as a person in these 243 pages than I have in reading other biographies about him. This was more the personal side of Lincoln that was presented but seeing this more personal side helps us in understanding why he was such amazing President and how he managed to accomplish the things he did in his life. Learning that he suffered from depression, that he recognized it and did not let it hold him back, is not only amazing, it’s also inspirational. And, most of all, it gives those of us that suffer from it too a hope that we can Ā persevere, that we don’t have to be held back. Yes, we have dark days and go through depressive episodes. Abraham Lincoln certainly did. But we can come through it, just as he did. We can become stronger than we were before, we can push through what holds us back and sure, we might see the world differently at the end of it, but that is okay. Seeing the world differently than others can make certain things become apparent to us that perhaps we didn’t see before. Most of all, it shows us again, what an amazing, timeless person Abraham Lincoln is and that in our society today, he is still relevant. The other important thing that “Lincoln’s Melancholy” shows us is this – it lets those of us that sufferer from depression know that we are not alone.

 

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