Tuesday, July 3, 2018

One Thousand White Women: Book Review

One Thousand White Women
By Jim Fergus

I have been looking forward to reading, One Thousand White Women. Sandy, from our book club picked the book. Usually she is never wrong. The book is a re-print. He just wrote a sequel to One Thousand White Women. I thought this would be a great read. Since, I don't usually read books about the mid-west.  After reading, I think I will like to dive more in the subject of the mid-west. 

The book as you can tell is historical fiction. It is written as a journal. It is based on the story of the author's family. But, he has taken some liberties to change the story. The Federal government want to strike a deal with the Indians. They will trade American White Women for Indian goods. 

May Dodd is committed to an mental asylum because her family thinks she has married below her station and had children by the man.  May decides the best way out of the problem is to participate in the secret government's scheme. She has to leave her two children behind. She book is written in letter form to her brother, and sister. It is correspondence to them about her life. The letters are not reciprocated back and forth. 

She further complicates matters by falling in love with Captain Bourke. Then eventually marries the Chief of the Cheyennes, Little Wolfe. She lives during difficult, and  harsh weather conditions. She learns to assimilate to the Indian's ways of life. Which is not easy. Learning to get along with the other tribes. (since there is fighting against the other tribes)Making friends with the other women of the tribe, as well as the others that came with her. There is a lot she must learn from being a civilized woman to assimilate into the tribe. As well as not being naive to the American government. She learns how devious, and the American troops take the land of the Cheyenne. 

The writing style was straight narrative.There were parts of the novel that was predictable. Which I felt drifting off in the narrative. The beginning of the novel was good then it lost me. When the author started writing about the federal government, and the Indians. It finally drew me back in.Since I love reading about social justice, and the constitution. That drew the plot for me a bit. 

 The book was a bit dry. The writing had no feeling, or emotion.. There was romance in the novel, but  with no feeling. I did keep trudging on. It still kept me wanting to read, though. After I read the book I am going to do my own research about the Plain's Indians, Sioux, and Cheyennes. 

I hope to find another novel on the subject. I will be posting on our book club meeting next week. I will let you know what others said. Sandy, did tell us that the sequel is not as good. I will her advise and not go further. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lilac Girls: Book Review

Lilac Girls
By Martha Hall Kelly
Review copy from Ballantine Books

You may not want to read my review. I am very critical of people writing books about the holocaust period. I have read so many books on the holocaust. They all read the same. This is just another book about the subject. I read somewhere. As you get older books read the same. So to me the book was just another one

. I only read this one because we were discussing, Lilac Girls for our book club. It was very depressing, and sad. I had a difficult time getting through the book.

Though, this is the first time I am reading a novel about the holocaust. Without it being the Jewish perspective. In this novel, the people are non-Jewish, and the author is non-Jewish. It was the first time I read a book in this time period with the characters not being Jewish. It was difficult to read. . One part disturbed me at one point. When Herta had no problem picking through Jewish property That was owned by a Jewish family. I think that was it. I didn't like the book from there.

 The three main characters, Caroline Farraday, works for the American Consulate. Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor. Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager she works for the Underground Resistance Movement. These three characters lives eventually intercept. But, not till about 3/4 of the novel.

Caroline works in the American consulate who eventually learns about the SS experiments that are being done by Nazi doctors. The doctors do horrific experiments to the Nazi prisoners in a prison camp called, Ravensbruck.

The novel is quick moving. But, at times is slow moving. I struggled through the novel. There were times I wanted to say, enough. I can't read any further. But, because I am the moderator of the book club. I was forced to finish it. I couldn't wait to finish the book. When the end came. I finally felt thank g-d.

I enjoy reading historical fiction.But, this is one I didn't particularly fall in love with. Even though the story was fast moving.

 I always remember hearing stories of experiments done in the camps. I didn't realize to what extent. I never heard of stories of women called, "Rabbits". The experiments were done to the women prisoners legs. That is all I am going to say about it without ruining the story.

The book is based on true facts. The author was inspired by visiting the real life woman's home. Where she learned about her saving these women's lives. I know I will get flack about my opinion of the book. But, this is my opinion. As you get older and you read these types of books, over, and over. They all read the same.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Hellfire Club: Book Review

Hellfire Club
By Jake Tapper

Courtesy Copy: Netgalley

If you like a bit of history, political intrigue, and suspense and some twists.You will enjoy reading Jake Tapper's new novel. This is he's first attempt writing fiction. I will be reading more if he delves more into fiction. 

 I don't know much about McCarthyism, which is where the setting in time takes place in Washington, DC. The story sets up with a well meaning congressman. Who was not meant for the job. He was a teaching professor at a University. Then he, and he's wife move to Washington. He's well meaning father pulls connections for him to become a congressman. Where twists and turns happen right from the first page. He is invited to a party, then leaves. We don't know what happens. (All of a sudden. It has a Ted Kennedy feel). He finds himself laying on the ground. He must have been thrown from he's car. In he's car is a dead read head. 

Who is she? How did this happen? He doesn't remember being in the car with anyone. He finds himself thrown from the car. He's clothes all muddy. Then conveniently a man. Shows up and asked if he needs some help. He tells him,  he should dispose of the body.  A man he doesn't know. And that is just the beginning of the novel. 

I enjoyed the cameos of real people pop into the book. We have the Kennedy's, LBJ, Cohn( Who actually is Trump's follower in real life), McCarthy, Eisenhower, and many more that pop in the book. There is a secret society in government that we learn about called, . It was a secret society in England. The Hellfire Club which starts in England and is associated with Ben Franklin.( actually true history). There were some heroes, and some villains in Washington. Which I wasn't aware of. Such as Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine. . She stood against McCarthy. .She spoke out with her, Declaration of Conscience.  

The book was a fun read. it was a feel good novel. When actually good people did stand up for the common good, and our country. I think Mr. Tapper was trying to convey that there are good intentioned congressmen, and senators that come to Washington hoping to do good. But then people compromise, and keep compromising until the good is no longer there..

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Educated: Book Review

By Tara Westover
Digital Copy from Netgalley

What a inspiration. Anyone who is a scholar, educator, or believes in education will be amazed how this little girl had no education.

 Her brother, Tyler encouraged her to self teach herself. The family didn’t believe in education.  The only way to get out of the house was to prepare for the tests. Hopefully get herself to college.]

Because how the family lived. The only thing they could look forward to was a hard life. She didn’t want to be a stay at home mother, pregnant and barefoot. But, what obstacles at home to get through. Unfortunately, she was isolated from the rest of the world. The education she learned from home. Was learned from her parents, and the environment   But, often times because she was off the grid. She had a difficult time fitting in. Intellectually, and common sense. Eventually she did get by. 

When she went to college the other students at Cambridge. Either thought she was stupid, or was playing dumb. They thought she was either anti-Semitic, because she didn’t know what the Holocaust was, or even Civil Rights Movement.Unfortunately since she was born. Her father believed the government is evil. Her father Didn’t believe in medical help when several accidents occurred. Her brother trying to kill her. -Think of Ruby Ridge. She still earned her PHd at Cambridge. I was rooting for her all the way. While I was reading, Educated.

She had a terrible upbringing. She was unable to attend school. The family owned a Junk Yard. It had dangerous scraps around the yard.  The machinery they used were archaic, and unsafe. There weren’t any safety equipment, or safety helmets. They had to empty gasoline from old engines. Drain them before it could be compressed, and compacted-Very dangerous. Her Brother was terribly injured, as well as the father. 

Her father was very paranoid. Thought the government would lock them up. Her father believed the world was coming to the end. Her father didn’t safeguard them, or protect them. So, if they were against government you can’t imagine what happened to the family. Many accidents. Unfortunately the father was determined never to take him, or his children to the hospital when there were minor accidents, and major accidents.  Tara was hurt many times. Instead of going to the hospital. They would go home to their Mom to give them herbal mixtures.

Her mother became involved with Midwifery, and herbal mixtures. There is plenty of inconsistencies. At times Tara wrote that they had a TV and radio. Or some of the brothers and sisters did go to school, but she didn’t. Then other times not. There is plenty of times in the book she questions her memories.

Once, Tara went to Cambridge everything changed. She learned that not everything her father told her was true. He made up lies, tried to prove conspiracy theories. The family ties became strained. Especially when confronted the problems with Shawn( her abusive brother).

Shawn, once got hurt many times. From the first accident you could see a change in his mood and behavior. From the second, and third accident he’s behavior got worse. Tara didn’t know how to deal with her brother. He could be combative, nasty, aggressive. The entire family would turn a blind’s eye to his cruelty. She was considered a “Whore” by her brother Shawn.

I recommend it highly. The writing style makes it an easy read. But really, it is not an easy book to read because of the hard life she, and her family lead. As I’m reading. It is playing as a movie through my head. Once, you get beyond that. I think you will be able to read it. Recommend seeing the documentary, Ruby Ridge.5 cups
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Hacks: Book Review

By Donna Brazile
My own copy

Boy, Hacks was an eye opener. I didn’t know what shenanigans has been going on in politics. What an eye opener. I never cared about politics until the 2016 Presidential elections. The author writes likes she is having coffee  at the coffee table having a discussion with you. I would love to meet her some day. She is some tough cookie. But she at sometime has a breaking point. I felt like as she was talking all warm, and snugly inside. It could have been the writing style.
The one main thing that concerns me. Hilary Clinton donated money to the Dem party. What this did. Which is not illegal, just unethical. Bernie Sanders didn’t get any help. Instead Hilary Clinton got all the resources and monies she needed before the primary.
That isn’t usually done till the primaries are done. This is not what happened instead. She got all the resources ahead of time.
I am not educated in politics until now. I didn’t know the in’s and out’s of the political process. It makes sense to statistical polls and take them for granted how things were done. The Dem party took it for granted. What happened HC didn’t go to the districts because they thought she would win. Wrong decision by Robby Mooks.
The biggest as we all know is someone got in and tempered with the Democratic party systems. We found out later it was Russia. The hackers name was Cozy Bear, and one other name I can’t remember. It was found out they entered the systems quite awhile ago. The FBI contacted the Democratic Party. The person they contacted thought it was a joke. I m not going to go into it. As there is so much technical terms. But, eventually they were found out. Eventually right before the elections they were able to find out what happened. But, by then it was too late.
Two other things are talked about in the book. What emails were mailed to the author. Did she have the questions ahead of time? I can’t say. There is no evidence of her email. Her answer to me answers what happened. But, I am not an expert.
The other was Bernie Sanders when the emails were leaked from the DNC. Were there derogatory emails dumped?Were some of them real? Or were they fake? Who knows.
The other terrible thing happened to Seth Rich a young man who was murdered from the DNC party. Was he murdered because of random killing? or did it have something to do with what was going on in the DNC. I don’t think we will ever know. There was alot of paranoia going on. People were scared and nervous that people’s homes are being bugged. Or in the office a person came in watering plants for the DNC office. Who was she no one knows.
It was a terrible thing that happened. The good thing is that American Citizens including me are getting involved. Where they weren’t involved before. Citizens are becoming active. There are Marches, and people speaking out. So perhaps something good has come out of this.
I am angry how this played out. I am not writing as a Dem. or GOP. What I am angry about nothing has been done to the Russians. This should concern every American. The Russian’s interfered in our elections, Period. I don’t care what side you are on. What is going to happen this Nov’ 18, or presidential elections 2020! It could happen again. How do we know our process will be protected.
Some people are angry that she wrote this book. People thought it was against the DNC. The author says, it is her explanation of why, and what happened. To make sure nothing like this happens again.  I liked how she ended the book. With optimism, and hope. I would like to thank Donna Brazile for her version of what happened.

Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk
By Kathleen Rooney
Copy given from St. Martin

We meet Lillian Boxfish on New Year’s Eve, 1984. Who is Lillian Boxfish? She was the most well paid, woman, copy writer, in advertising in the 1930’s. She worked for R. H. Macy in NYC. When we meet Lillian, she is retired at the age of 85 years old. She lives alone, with her cat. Her son is married and lives far away from her. She has decided she wants to walk the city to bring in the new year.  While she is walking every stop. She reminisces about her life and each different stop.
The publisher put in the front and the back of the book the different stops she made. I didn’t particularly like the map that was illustrated.  Since I lived in NYC. I would have preferred a real map that showed the different landmarks.
FYI- Lillian Boxfish is Margaret Fishback the real life person. You can look who she is here.
Image result for margaret fishback
I may have gotten a different perspective of the novel.  I graduated nursing school in 1985 in NJ. I used to commute to the city until I was able to move into the nursing dorms at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. I could identify with the landmarks, where Lillian walked. I remember walking during Christmas time in NYC. The beautiful Christmas decorations in the store fronts. The Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This brings back memories.
Remembering what it was like in 1984. The Mayor of NYC was Ed Koch. He was responsible for the clean up of NYC crime. The killings, muggings, dirty subways, and dirty streets of NYC. He was making a commitment to clean up the city. No more prostitutes, window washers on the corner.
In the novel, Katherine Rooney, uses Lillian’s son to talk about the crimes, and conditions of the city. Just think about it, is it realistic for a 85 year old woman to walk to streets anywhere now a days, especially the city, in NY. Her son is very worried about her. Walking the streets of the city. Be realistic, “Are you crazy, Lillian”. I don’t know what possessed her to walk the streets. I remember in 1984, I was 26. I was nervous walking the streets. Even when I was near the hospital, on the subway, on the bus, at night.
There were several  favorite parts of the novel that was touching.  I am not going to tell you too much. Just tell you she made a couple generous gestures to people. That made you feel good, and fussy inside. When she meets Wendy. A young woman. How they become friendly with each other. Even though, they are different ages.
I just loved the whole story. What is was like when she was young, and her marriage, and her troubles. Which I don’t want to go into. I don’t want to ruin it for y’all. I will say, I could feel the sights, sounds, smells, of the city. This is a charming, feel good novel, that is “unputdownable”. It is a book you want to hug, and not let go. It has so much warmth, and charm. This book is a keeper. I would top this with Golem and the Jinni. One of my favorites of all time.
I came out of this with aging, connecting with the younger crowd( perhaps because I am middle age), nostalgia, aging. The novel is so unique, and different.
Originally I got the book for a giveaway for our literary event from the publisher. Each year, the Moveable Feast does a book review before the Christmas holidays. The presenter was raving about Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. I am so glad I found out about the novel.
Thank you St. Martin for the copy to review. I am looking forward for our book discussion in two weeks. Even better, next month Katherine Rooney is coming to the Moveable Feast next month. It has been arranged for our book club to sit at our table. I am very excited to finally meet her.
I highly recommend.
5 cups
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Interview: Kathleen Rooney: Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk

katherine Rooney

Hi Kathleen! I am excited to meet you. Are you looking forward to coming South to SC next week? Our book club is so excited because the organizer is having you sit with our book club. We can’t wait to hear about Lillian and her adventures, her life, and her work in NYC.  She was a gutsy lady!

Where did you get your inspiration for the novel, Lillian Boxfish?
KR: The dedication of the book is in part to “Angela, my archivist always.” That refers to my high school best friend without whom I would never have come across the inspiration for this novel. She was getting her Library Science degree at UNC—Chapel Hill and had an internship at Duke University at the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History where she got to be the first archivist to work with the papers of Margaret Fishback, the real-life highest paid advertising copywriter in America in the 1930s. Thanks to her, I got to be the first non-archivist to work with the Fishback materials, an unforgettable experience that ultimately led me to write this book based on her biography and achievements.
Did you mean to write a story about old age and memory? You are so young, I am just wondering where and how the story developed? You as a young person, I wouldn’t think you would be so wise in your young years to write a story about old age, and memory.
KR: The other part of the book’s dedication is to “Eric, forever my favorite flâneur.” That refers to my DePaul University friend and colleague with whom I take long, drifting walks through the city of Chicago. In order to make a compelling novel out of the Fishback material, I knew I needed to find some way to fictionalize her story, and walking became the key to that. It took me years of contemplating the archival material before my own lifelong love of walking paired with my habit of Chicago walks made me realize that a New Year’s Eve stroll around Manhattan would give Lillian the occasion she needed to look back from her old age of 85 years and meditate on her memories of her life in the city she had known and loved for almost six decades. I’m so glad to hear you found Lillian’s wisdom as an octogenarian convincing because one of my chief goals with the story, even though I’m only in my 30s, was to create a believable older voice.
Did you live in NYC? The story really had the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. But, the only thing I felt that you missed were the vendors at the corner of each block.  Here is a useful link of a map. I wish I had seen it before reading the book.
KR: Thanks! Especially because I know you lived in New York, your compliment is much appreciated. But nope: I never lived there. It was all historical research and the occasional trip to the Manhattan over the years. New York is one of my favorite cities to walk around and I also love the food vendors—I couldn’t find a way to work them in, sadly, because it didn’t seem plausible to me that Lillian would run into a lot on New Year’s Eve, so the best I could do was C.J. the bodega clerk, who was a character I liked inventing.
The story is very inspirational for the ” me too” movement, it is so timely with everything that is going on right now. What do you think Lillian Boxfish would say about the me too movement, and the feminist movement? She was such a gutsy lady. What would Lillian say today to the young ladies of today? What do you think your message is to the me too movement of today? What does memory say about Lillian? And her past? What our culture is like today?
KR: Lillian would absolutely be a supporter of the #MeToo movement and of feminism in general. I put the scene where she confronts her boss, Chester, for equal pay into the book because it seemed true to her no-nonsense outlook and to her sense of justice, first and foremost, but also because those issues are ones that I think about a lot personally and I wanted to show that the struggles women are going through today are connected to the ones they went through in the past. We’ve come so far, but we still have so far to go.
To the young ladies of today, Lillian would say: don’t underestimate yourselves and don’t let anyone convince you that you deserve substandard treatment, reduced compensation, or fewer opportunities because you happen to be a woman. I think she would also advise the young women of today’s feminist movement to keep fighting the good fight, and to fight it on all fronts: keep working for equal pay and an end to sexual harassment and assault, but also work intersectionally with women of all different racial and class backgrounds for bigger systemic and institutional fixes, including paid parental leave and free childcare.
One of the things that broke my heart in my research about the real-life inspiration, Margaret Fishback, was that she was forced to leave her job when she and her husband announced that she was pregnant, a policy that was standard at the time. I put that episode—being made to leave a career that you love and are immensely talented at for an arbitrary and unfair reason—in the book to be accurate, but also to show that sadly, things are not so tremendously different today. But the thing is, they could be. We all deserve better. If women get more chances and support, then all of society benefits.
The book is very light reading, but there were messages that were conveyed, what message was Lillian trying to convey?
KR: For fiction to be absorbing, it has to be a pleasure to read—in some sense, it must be entertaining above all. So I did my best to make Lillian someone you’d be delighted to listen to. But then in addition to entertainment, good fiction can also teach the reader something. So some of the ideas I hope Lillian helps my readers learn or think about is how civility is so important to creating a culture that treats all its members with compassion and respect. Lillian believes in good manners not because she’s some stickler for etiquette; she doesn’t care if you use the right fork. What she does want to do is treat everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, with kindness and interest—everyone she meets, she greets with an openness and a willingness to listen. It can seem like a clichĂ©, but if you truly treat people the way you would want to be treated, more often than not, you discover that they treat you well in return and you can have a wonderful conversation.
Do you think this story could have taken place in any city, or why NYC did you pick particularly?
KR: The only city this book could have been set in is New York. The advertising industry that Lillian (and her real life inspiration, Margaret) worked in, departmental advertising for the department store R.H. Macy’s, was headquartered in Herald Square, so that’s where she had to be. Plus, I wanted the book to be a sweeping catalogue of much of the twentieth century, and New York played a pivotal role in so many of that century’s defining incidents. Finally, I wanted to have the Bernhard Goetz / Subway Vigilante shootings playing in the background, and those happened in New York in 1984. Part of what I hope the reader finds impressive about Lillian is her courage and her refusal to abandon the city she loves out of fear, and I needed to emphasize just how threatening New York City had come to feel to many people by the early 1980s.
What research did you do before writing the book? I am surprised how much you knew about the city life, the crime, the culture of NYC.
KR: Research is my most beloved phase of any project and I did so much for Lillian. Besides all the archival materials from Margaret, I read exhaustively about the history of the city and also in books that were not just about but specificallyfrom the time periods (the 1920s through the 1980s) so I could get a sense of how people thought and spoke over the eras.
Was it difficult to go from poetry to writing a novel? What is your writing process? Was it different because you were a poet?
KR: Lillian Boxfish is actually my second novel, with the first being O, Democracy!, a political comedy, and I have a few prose nonfiction books as well, including Reading With Oprah: The Book Club that Changed Americaand Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Objectabout being an artist’s model. So while poetry is my first love, I also am quite fond of writing prose. But I do think that novels are, for me, the hardest genre, simply because there’s so much to hold in your head for such a long period of time: all these imagined people and their imagined lives and surroundings! It helped that Lillian as a character is, herself, a light-verse poet. One of the coolest things about writing this book was imagining how someone like with such an astonishing vocabulary and sense of rhythm and rhyme would have thought and talked.
Lillian is such a character with a lot of wit, did you have someone in mind while writing about Lillian’s character?
KR: Thank you. Wit is one of my favorite traits in a person and it was important to me that Lillian be witty. So often, you hear people (foolish people) say that women are not as funny as men, and that’s clearly ridiculous. Women can be hilarious. Margaret, the woman Lillian was based on, is in fact the person who pioneered the use of comedy in advertising. Before she revolutionized the industry, ads tended to be sober and self-serious. As models for Lillian, besides Margaret herself, I looked at the poet and writer Dorothy Parker, one of the wittiest women who ever lived, and also Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Were you trying to show older citizens still have something to share with younger society? Just because she was old doesn’t mean she doesn’t have something to contribute along the people she met along the way.
KR: Absolutely. I’ve always found myself drawn to older people for their life experiences and perspectives. And I was thinking, as I wrote this, about how old women especially tend to find themselves dismissed and erased—treated as invisible, really. I wanted to give visibility to that group of people because they have so much to offer, if people would just listen.
Is there anything that you want to say to the older generation reading this book? Were you speaking possibly to your grandmother, or listening to her voice while writing this book?
KR: Both of my grandmothers were fascinating and influential women to me, so I certainly had them in mind. In addition, I had my Great Aunt Georgi, my grandfather’s sister, in my head as I built Lillian. She was a smart, funny, kind and giving lady who never married, which was very rare for her era, but who nevertheless lived a fun and fascinating life. I loved seeing her whenever we’d visit Nebraska at Christmas and in the summertime. She was always respectful of other people but lived life independently and on her own terms and I will never cease to admire her for that; I’m grateful to her for being a sterling role model.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with me and my book blog readers?
KR: As a college professor at DePaul University and as a book reviewer for the Chicago Tribune, I like to recommend books both to my students and to general readers. So I’ll end by recommending two books I read recently that I really enjoyed and think that your blog followers might as well: first, the recently reissued classic novel from 1980 by the Canadian writer Helen Weinzweig, Basic Black with Pearls, a strange and funny feminist sort-of spy novel. And second, the just-released graphic memoir We Ate Wonder Bread; it’s a coming-of-age memoir about growing up on the West Side of Chicago by the feminist cartoonist Nicole Hollander, creator of the comic strip Sylvia.
Also Kathleen told me something interested. Here is the link to something interested about Kathleen, a B &B for publishers.Check it out. You should scroll down till you find her name.
Thank you Kathleen for stopping by. This was alot of fun! I had a wonderful time chatting with you. Wishing you a safe, and fun trip to Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately this year is still cool. This year we have unusual weather. I hope by the time you arrive it will be warmer. Happy Trails!
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One Thousand White Women: Book Review

One Thousand White Women By Jim Fergus I have been looking forward to reading, One Thousand White Women. S...