Monday, October 14, 2019

Book Review and Book Club: See What I Have Done

See What I Have Done
By Sarah Schmidt

Our book club discussed the novel, See What I Have Done for this month in honor of Halloween. The feel of the book did not feel natural. I don't know if it had to do with the author not being American. The book is about the murderer, Lizzie Borden. Most of us know or have heard of the jingle of Lizzie Borden.

I don't know what it is. But, I wasn't thrilled with the book. It was OK. But, not great. All of us in the book club didn't really like the novel. I was surprised because of the ratings most of the people commented on Goodreads.

Lizzie had a sad life. She sounded like she was a psychopath. Her family dynamics were challenging most of the time. Her father remarried after her mother died to her stepmother. They were very controlling people. The family was wealthy. But still, the family had old fashioned plumbing( outhouse), no modern conveniences. Her father was stingy. Her sister felt obligated to her clingy sister, Lizzie.

Lizzie found her parents dead. There were many coincidences. Or were they? Did she kill her parents? A couple days before her parents felt they were poisoned. Her dress had blood on it. Or was it paint like Lizzie said?  The author didn't write what happened after Lizzie was taken to jail. Just up to the time she was accused.

I did my own research and watched a documentary on youtube about Lizzie, and her family. It was very enlightening.

Most everyone thought she didn't murder her parents. Only one thought that she did. Most of us felt the writing wasn't great, and we didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought. I was very disappointed.
Oh well, on to better books. Our next book is Killers of the Flower Moon. Which I read, and loved quite awhile ago. I don't like picking books that I already read.

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Wow! What a Eyeopener-Blowout

By Rachel Maddow
Random House

If you are like me you never thought about the gas/oil industry. The only time I have a connection with gas is pumping gas into my car. I never give it another thought.  It's a shame because we should think about the oil/gas companies' accountability and corruption that goes on here in the United States, but also abroad(Russia).

I have been anticipating the book, Blowout by Rachel for months since I heard about it. The book is timely after we learned what is going on between the US President, and the Ukraine phone call.  Rachel explains Russia is a poor country. Who is Putin? How did he get into power?   It doesn't make any sense if their economy is rich in oil. Why is it not trickling down to the citizens of Russia? What is the oil and gas industry connection with Russia? Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? US elections? What is with the oligarchs? What is the connection between oil, and gas, and Russia? Why are the big oil companies so interested in Russia? It's the oil in the Kara Sea. Russia thinks it needs the oil companies to extract the oil out. Do they really need them as much as they think? How is Ukraine connected to all this? What do SANCTIONS in the EU, have anything to do with it? What does it have to do with the US? And US elections? These are the questions, and answered in Blowout.

 PLENTY! Because Russia relies on other countries for their goods. If they are sanctioned other countries can't work with them. Russia is hoping to convince Trump to lift sanctions. That is the bottom line. Putin didn't realize interfering in our elections would work so well. It did better than expected. One thing I will say, I thought it was suspicious that every link to Trump had a finger from Russia. Was that coincidence? Flynn, Manafort, Page, and the list goes on, and on...It was also strange that Stein, an independent presidential candidate was in Russia.

The book is not so much about Exxon Mobil and Rex Tillerson who just so happened to be appointed by President Trump as our Secretary of State. But the corruption that goes along with the connections of the countries and big gas corporations. What happens to certain countries when they deal with one economy, gas. The countries that only rely on gas to make money always end up corrupt. That is what happened to Russia, and Saudia Arabia, for example.

It also opened up my eyes from years ago when I was a kid. At the time most of what the gas/ oil companies didn't affect me because I was a young kid. Well, I was wrong. It knows has bitten me in the butt. It has come back to haunt me, and the rest of the world( climate change). We can blame our parents, and the government then. But, blaming doesn't do much, action will.  We had warnings by scientists reporting that the techniques pulling oil and gas out of the ground were not a good idea. But, because there wasn't enough outcry. The companies still extracted the oil. There is so much information in the book it overwhelms you at times. I just brushed on a few.

The best part of the book is what happened to the state of Oklahoma and the gas industry. Oklahoma was allowing the gas industry to extract oil out of the ground. The process of taking the oil out was causing not just a few earthquakes, but many for a few years. There was one certain scientist that was warning the state. Finally, the state had enough, they did something about it. They made the gas companies accountable.

As most of us who watch Rachel on her show, The Rachel Maddow Show. She is a storyteller and likes to mix humor into her storytelling. She likes to tell us about history, and the background info. before she talks about a certain topic. You can tell Rachel did her homework and research. I don't know how she did with her day job.  I hope you will pick up the book. I will say you can't read the book at only a few sittings For me it was overwhelming and easier for me to read only a few chapters at a time instead of big chunks.

Thank you, Rachel, for opening my eyes. Thank you, Random House, and Netgalley for allowing me to review.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Enemy Of The People: Book Review

The Enemy of the People
By Jim Acosta
Purchased copy from Kindle

I was excited to learn Jim Acosta was publishing his memoir about covering the president since 2016. I don't know what I was expecting. I was a bit disappointed. The book seemed to re-hash everything I knew about. I found the book dry in parts and not too interesting. If you are a political hound like me. I recommend you don't buy it. You can find everything about his experiences on CNN, and Youtube.
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Mr. Acosta talks about some friendships he has lost because of the political climate we are in now. He talks about rallies and tactics that Mr. Trump uses to rile up his base.  Some of it is frightening to think a President can do, or say anything without consequences to the audience. The Journalists and reporters become the center of attention at his rallies to rile up the audience. What CNN did to protect Mr. Acosta when he was sued by the President

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Thank you, Mr. Acosta, for standing up for the PEOPLE. You are not the Enemy of the People, The President of the United States is. Thank you, and others like you that stand up to his lies and make him accountable. You put the pressure on him, and others in his cabinet. Unfortunately, Mr. Acosta has become the news. That is one thing a reporter is taught in Journalism. You don't want to make yourself part of the story. Unfortunately, with this president, you don't have a choice.

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The only way you make the President accountable. Is to question him. When you question him, you will be attacked by what is not favorable to him. Instead, he spits nails and fights back. We need more journalists to fight back for Freedom of the Press. Unfortunately, there are journalists that are competitive and want to win favors to the president and has sold out journalism. Just to get the story for fame. Thank g-d, some like Mr. Acosta, and Ms. Ryan stand up for the people, and our constitution.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Love Mayor Pete: Book Review-Shortest Way Home

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Shortest Way Home
By Pete Buttigieg

I remember the first time I saw this young man on TV. I didn't like him too much. I thought he was smug and conceited. I thought he was saying that the older folks don't matter. I thought he felt we were infallible and insignificant. After I watched him more and more at other town halls and TV appearances. I realized I didn't give him a chance. I like what he has to say. Mayor Pete as he likes to be called. Has lived in South Bend all his life in Indiana. He is a very intelligent young man. He is a Rhodes Scholar, He was in the Navy Reserves in Afghanistan. All at the age of 37. And of course, he is a Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He has been elected two times. He is a gay man, happily married about a year ago to Chasten with two dogs.

Mayor Pete is well qualified with being a mayor and serving in the military. He seems to be believable, good character, good morals, honest, good character, well mannered, and humble.  After watching him more and more for the last few months.  I am behind Mayor Pete.

What else can be added that hasn't been said. He is magic to my ears. He is a breath of fresh air. He is very unique than the rest of the pack( up to 20 I think) He has a great love for his city, as mayor of South Bend.

Besides his political aspirations. There is a man. He is totally opposite of any politician I have heard before. He is genuine, he has character.

His religion does play a part in his genuineness. You can hear it when he speaks. He does not push his belief on others. Which is one subject I wish he wrote in his book.

He has demeanor without anger. Which is what attracted me to him at first.  Then the other qualities accentuated everything else. Besides at the age of 37. He is an old man living in a young man's body. Perhaps it has to do with his parents being academics, an only child.

He has all the traits our current president doesn't. He is college educated, Rhode Scholar, served as mayor in South Bend. Served in the Navy as a reservist for seven months. He also ran for head of DNC. All of this before the age of 40.

At the beginning of his book. I wasn't thrilled with the writing. He kept jumping around. Then after a while, he seemed to get his footing.

I enjoyed reading his book because he gave me hope for our country. I actually wanted to buy Audible to listen to his words, as well as reading. I felt it would have brought his emotions to his book.

 I have seen him in all the town halls since he has announced he is running for president. I enjoy listening to his hope and aspirations for this country.

I am not only reviewing the book. But, also what I think of Major Pete. He can hold his own. He knows how to defend his character as well as what he wants for our country to lead as a young man.

At first, I wasn't thrilled with him. I felt he was isolated us older folks behind. Feeling like we were irrelevant. After I got past that. And realized that wasn't what his intention was. I was all in for Pete.

What he has is he is a young, innovative, data-driven, and new ideas, business-oriented young man. He worked as a data-driven consultant. Which I think will bring new ideas to government. I am tired of the old stuffy old men running our country. They are old fashioned and keeping us behind. Its time for a change. The old men think we think like they do, no! They are behind the times. (BTW, I'm in my early  60's).

The other subject, I don't sway for just to pigeon hole a person. If the person is a man, woman, gay, straight, African-American, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, etc. I vote for the person. If he can do a good job.

There are many more candidates I am leaning toward him, and Elizabeth Warren. I will see what others bring to the table in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Book Review: Furious Hours

Furious Hours
By Casey Cep
Review copy from Random House

First, let me explain the controversy about Harper Lee, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The book was a heartwarming novel about a little girl named, Scout. Her father was a lawyer in a small town. He was trying a case against a black man. The book was adapted into a movie as the same name. As far as anyone knew To Kill a Mockingbird was her first, and only novel.

There were many stories out there about Harper Lee. But, no one knew for sure. In 2015 the speculation was over. She published her novel. It is said this was actually her prequel to Kill a Mockingbird.

I had wanted to read Furious Hours for months when I first heard about it. I didn't know what to expect. All I knew it was in connection with Harper Lee and a crime, Wow! That intrigued me

 I thought to myself why would she go from writing literary fiction to crime non-fiction. I totally forgot that her father worked for a newspaper in Alabama. Also, she helped her friend the famous writer, Truman Capote write in Cold Blood. I realized she does have the expertise. There has been so much speculation for years why she never wrote another book.

Here is the murder article from the NYT.

The book, Furious Hours does open the door to some unanswered questions. But, still, at the end, you realize nobody really knows why she never published" The Reverend". She had done her research and gathered so much information. There was no reason she didn't publish it.

The book opens up to three parts, the actual crime. The second part was the lawyer who tried the case. And the third was Harper Lee herself. The first part felt like I was reading a John Grisham novel.

SPOILER **************SPOILER*************************SPOILER***************

 In the 1970s a serial killer was on the loose. A suspected Afro-American Preacher named, Reverend Willey Maxwell. He was accused of murdering his family, but why??

After killing many different people in town who actually felt that he put a hex on people because of voodoo. He Apparently had killed several people for insurance money. He collected several thousands of dollars. And he's lawyer helped him get away with the murders. He also tried the man who killed Rev. Maxwell.  Apparently back then you could insure anyone. It didn't have to be a relative. He got away with it for years. No one was interested in a black man committing several crimes. At least that is the way Casey Cep portrays the town and the criminal system in Alabama.

Several times the preacher, Reverend Maxwell was tried. Several times he was acquitted. When the trial opened up for Mr. Burns trial. Who was sitting in the audience at the courthouse of the trial of Mr. Burns? None other than Harper Lee. She thought she could write a book about the crime. Not the way Truman Capote wrote In Cold Blood. Apparently, the book was full of holes. She wanted to write a book full of truths, not made up facts. She accused Truman of not being truthful. She had left NYC to her native Alabama.  She stayed in Alabama digging up and gathering research for her book.
Casey Cep was writing a story for the Atlantic. It was here, she went to Alabama to write a piece about Harper Lee's last novel, Go Set The Watchman. It is also here where she got the idea for a book. Where she learned about the murder case Harper Lee was working on for years and never published.

I enjoyed reading the book. The way it is written. It is like three stories in one. The author you can tell was obsessed with Harper Lee's work. She did a lot of research. At first, I didn't understand why the author was talking about insurance. As you get further in the book it does make it interesting. Especially when she talks about the area where the crime happened. Background info.  about the Reverend, and the history of the industry of insurance. The author writes so much background info. concerning the case( why, where, when, and how). I don't think I ever read a book like this one before. With such detail. You can tell she put her whole heart into the book because of her love of Harper Lee. You can also say the book is a biography of Harper Lee. Some details are answered. But, some are still unanswered questions about the author will never be known.

I recommend Furious Hours to anyone that is a Harper Lee fan. Also, anyone that loves true crime, and loves research. You will enjoy reading, I guarantee you.