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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Gown: Book Review

The Gown
By Jennifer Robson
ARC from Harper Collins

I picked The Gown after an ARC came to my mailbox for our book club. Our book club will be discussing the book in June.

 It was ironic I picked the novel before Prince Harry and Princess Meghan delivered their first child.  We have been reading very serious books lately. I wanted us to read something a bit lighter. I enjoyed reading, The Gown. The book if you think is about Princess Elizabeth you will be disappointed. The book is about the relationship of two ladies that worked at the famous fashion house called Hartnell. The fashion house was picked by the monarchy to make Princess Elizabeth's gown.

The book drew me in from the first page. It has fashion, mystery, suspense, and romance rolled into one. In 1947 after the war, when England and Europe are picking up the pieces. English monarchy has a wedding to plan for their daughter, Elizabeth, and Phillip. The monarchy decides to use the fashion house, Hartnell. The book starts at present in 2016. Something is left for Heather by her Grandmother. Heather picks up and leaves for England. To find out what the connection is to her Grandmother and the gown.

I picked The Gown hoping it would be light reading. Getting away from WW2, and the Holocaust. Wouldn't you know? One of the characters was a camp survivor. But, luckily it wasn't heavy-handed.

The story is divided from past and present. Also divided by the three people, Anna, Mariam, and Heather. I think the author did a wonderful job setting up the book and the writing technique that kept you captivated to almost the end of the book.  I always check out books after I read. To research and find out the actual events, and people. 📚

The best part of the book was the description of the Cathedral, the wedding ceremony, the description of the gown. I could actually feel like I was there.👰


The two characters Anna, and Miriam are not real characters. My cyberfriend was so upset about it she let me know how she felt. I agreed. After I post I'm certainly going to do research on the fashion house, the gown, and the seamstress that is mentioned in the book. Now, Betty Foster is real. She did work at the fashion house. At the end of the book the author has a Q\A.

 I don't want to set up the story because I'm afraid I will spoil it for you.

I don't usually read women's fiction, or a beach read. I think the book had more meat to it than other novels that are called Women's fiction. I was fascinated and loved the book. Perhaps more so because I love historical fiction, specifically, British. Also, I was watching the Netflix series, The Crown in my head while reading. I haven't watched the third season yet. So, here is my excuse.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Book Review: Truth in our Times

Truth in Our Times
By David E. McCraw

Complimentary Copy from:
Netgalley, All Points Books
(St. Martin)

The book gave me insight into what a lawyer actually does for a newspaper. If you work for one of those newspapers, NYT, Washington Post, etc. It is a good idea to have a lawyer to back you up. What is important that a lawyer is used for is the first amendment( right of free speech). One thing that is challenged by our President, and the DOJ on a daily basis.

The author, David E. McCraw is a good lawyer to have at your side. When you work for the paper. There are many dangerous situations you may find yourself, as a journalist. You are kidnapped by terrorists, the government wants to sue for leaked info. How is that handled? The information act, the government refuses to release the info. Lawyers must take it to court because the government refuses to release the papers. 

The most important info brought in the book. How much our President has challenged the first amendment. How very important free speech, and freedom of the press is. If we don't have newspapers, and journalists to challenge our government. The most important, the local newspapers are gone. The local papers are no longer needed financially. Corruption is easy to take over in the local governments. Since newspapers aren't around for transparency and accountability.

The book is not a fun book to read of course. It is dry for the common reader. If you were aware of the examples of the first amendment under fire. You could relate to what the author was talking about. There were several situations the author used examples. Where I didn't know what he was talking about. If I had, I think I could relate better. If you are a lawyer. I recommend the book anyone who wants to know about the law and the first amendment. 

At times the book is dry. But, that could be because I don't have a real understanding of the law.At times the book was a bit confusing what was going on. But, I got the main objective. The author is the same author that wrote an op-ed to President Trump.  I am an advocate of free speech and freedom of the press. The book just added my core values of freedom of both. We must continue not allowing the president to call the press, enemy of the people. that is a dangerous thing to say in our divisive country. Yes, there is definitely fake news. Which I call it out, and say lies. But when news report you question. Do your own research. President Trump lies all the time. Fox News has become Mr. Trump's mouthpiece. When something doesn't sound right to you, check it out first and don't spread the news that you know is false. Check it first before posting. 

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Book Review: Rust and Stardust

Rust & Stardust
By T. Greenwood

Complimentary copy
from Publicist: St. Martin

Rust & Stardust is a historical fiction novel written by the author, T. Greenwood. The book was a difficult book to read. It is based on a true crime in  Camden, NJ in 1948. It was a kidnapping of Sally Horner. She was kidnapped and finally escaped after two years.

To me, the story itself was not the takeaway. The take away is what to tell your children how to be cautious of strangers. It gave you a perspective of what it was like to be kidnapped. What to do and what not to do when you are kidnapped. What to teach your child. What to do, and not do as a parent as well. What innocent bystanders can look for, and what to do in situations like this.

I don't know what it was like during the 1940s and '50s. Were mothers so naive to allow a perfect stranger to take their daughter on vacation?  Part of the problem was Sally Horner's mother had so many physical ailments. She didn't have a husband to lean on. She had an elder daughter about to be married.  Sally was a lonely child. I think her mother was just happy that another friend took an interest in her. When the situation came up. Her mother was overjoyed that Sally was going down the shore with her friend She didn't think it was suspicious.

*************SPOILER Alert*******************************************************

Sally was a lonely little girl(not sure how old she was). She wanted to feel like she belonged. It is the awkward age of young adolescence. When a group of girls she knew asked her if she wanted to join them at Woolworth. She joined in and went with them to Woolworth. While there they told her she had to do a dare. To steal something, Sally decided on a notebook. While sitting at the lunch counter. A stranger was observing all this. As Sally went out of the door. The stranger followed her out the door and grabbed her. He told her he was an FBI agent and saw what she had done. Sally was so scared. She believed everything the FBI agent told her. He told her he was taking her to jail.

There were so many times she could have told her mother what was going on. Before he grabbed her. But, LaSalle terrorized her. He told her if she told anybody her family would be in danger. He took her to Maryland. After a while, she became suspicious about Frank. But, it was too late. He started doing things to her that I will not say( but you can imagine without me saying. He was basically a pedophile. Before the word was used.

 After the summer he put her in a Catholic School. A sister started to become suspicious. There was a chance that Sally could have told Sister. But, she was too frightened to. The Sister eventually reported it to her superiors. They transferred her to another school, basically, she was punished for telling the truth. They then went on the run to Texas.

Where again someone became suspicious. Each time, and situation Sally could have done something to run away. But, she didn't have the instincts to know what to do.

 The best part of you want to call it the best part. Her sister had a good husband. He was persistent about trying to track down Sally. He never stopped. He really cared about his little Sister-in-law. You would think he was the family. He seemed more concerned about Sally more than anyone.

The story is a cautionary tale about what to do, and not do to teach children to keep safe when approached by a stranger. Nowadays, I don't think this would have happened so easily. Parents and schools teach children safety measures when approached by a stranger. I hope children are not so naive. I was thinking about how stupid the mother was to allow a stranger to take her child. Without checking it out first.

The book was a page-turner and was predictable what happened to Sally. I am not going to tell you the ending, and spoil it for you. It was such a depressing book. I don't think I will ever forget it. The book is not for everyone. If you are looking to read about true crime. Then the book is for you. If you don't like a depressing book than the book is not for you.

 I remember, in the '90s when my son was born. I had to have three eyes in the back of my head. I would not let my son leave my side. This was in Miami. I remember that was the time. Little children were going missing all the time. Strangers were picking up kids and kidnapping little children. Every day you would hear the news reports.

  I still remember I was in the store. My son was about 4. I couldn't find him. Children don't know any better. I couldn't find my son in a small store. I was looking, and looking for him. I was in a panic. I couldn't find him. Finally in about 10 min. Mom, here I am peek-a-boo.  He was hiding under the carousel of clothes. I was so scared. I was always worried in the back of my mind while my son was small someone was going to pick him up. Thank g-d it never happened. The book is a good book discussion I think for young mothers. To think about how to talk to kids about strangers.