Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fear: Book Review

By Bob Woodward
purchased copy

I have bought several political books in the past years since President Trump has been elected. One of the books that stand out to me is, Fire and Fury. There is no comparison between the two. Fire and Fury was very simplistic prose. It was geared to anyone that doesn't like to read intense books. To me it was like reading a gossip column. On the opposite end is Fear.

First off the author is well known, he and Carl Bernstein are well known investigative Journalists from the Washington Post. They were responsible for opening the Watergate investigation wide open. Bob Woodward has a good reputation, and digs for the facts. He has sources to back them up. But, they are not named in the book. He does have several foot notes.

Where Fire and Fury was not an investigative book. It was geared to the gossip that was already reported in several newspapers. I am not sure why the publishers published the book. But, it did sell copies. Which is what the publishers were hoping for. They can say " thank you" to President Trump for the publicity.

Fear though is a totally different book. It is based on investigative reporting. Which have several different sources. The White House can deny all they want. But, the public knows the truth. Fear tells you the goings on in the White House by how the President picked his cabinet, how they were fired. What he thought of his staff. How the staff either tried to distract the president. Hoping he would forget to sign. Or they would take care of things by themselves.  The personalities of Cohn, Mattis, and McMaster was interesting to read. But, scary what the President was capable of doing. Thank g-d others were around him to stop him.  you wonder if he really thought this. Or just something that just came out of his mouth at the time. Did he just need to cool off.

What I liked about Fear was he delved into his policies. Which was not touched upon in Fire and Fury. Foreign policies, National Security, The military in Afghanistan, and the Middle East. What Trump thought about each one of these. How unaware and uneducated in several decisions that were made. Luckily there is staff there to protect him.

The problem with our president is. He runs the White House like a business. A president can run the government like a business but you should still have empathy, caring, civility, and competence. Which our president doesn't have. Instead he micro manages. Has cabinet members take on jobs that the senate usually does.Or he asks a low staffer to take on responsibility. That he or she doesn't have any knowledge.  After reading the book. You will then realize what was really going on in the background.

I recommend Fear, if you are a die hard political junkie. Who wants to know the truth about Trump, and the White House.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book Review: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Daughter of a Daughter
 of a Queen
By Sarah Bird

Copy courtesy from St. Martin

I was excited to read the novel, Daughter of a Daughter of Queen. I loved the synopsis of the novel. It is about a black woman. Who lived in Missouri. She was told she was a descendant of a proud African nation.  She was taken from her home to be a cook in the army for the troops. After the Civil War is over many of the slaves. Who worked in the Civil War have a choice. Either move back to the south where that part of the country was racist. Or move up north where you are well welcome.

I couldn't connect to the book or the characters. I gave it 200 pages and then gave up. I love historical fiction. I can't tell you why. But, I just didn't particularly like the book. Thank you St. Martin for allowing me to review. Unfortunately the book didn't do anything for me.

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In Memory: Book Review, Restless Wave

The Restless Wave
By John McCain
My copy

Since the election of 2016. I have been reading more non-fiction, rather than fiction. Mostly political, current events, social justice, etc.

 It has been reported that there has been a boom for more political books. That tells you something. Me, myself I have bought several books that are political, or current events. Since 2016 I have changed my reading habits.

 I haven't decided if I am a republican or democrat. I was a long time republican. But, realized I voted what my Dad voted. Not what I thought with my conscience.  I always spoke my mind to my friends and family. I took for granted our Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Thinking JUSTICE for ALL! is equality for all.

 I couldn't understand why there was debate for Afro- Americans, gerrymandering, Muslim, Hispanics, etc. I was in the dark. I didn't realize that Afro-Americans only won the right to vote in 1964. And, I'm in the early 60's. I'm so sorry it took me this long to open my eyes.

Since like I said, I started paying attention to politics, and current events. I think both GOP, and Democrats are corrupt. But, I think we are better off with  Democrats right now. With Trump in office it has been a catastrophe. But, Congress, and Senate has been a mess in years. Right now, Congress and Senate don't want to reach across the aisle. They don't want to work together. There is far right, and far left, no moderates of both sides. I think that would help. But, our country has been about big money, and lobbyist. Not for the American people. Especially when it comes to Obamacare.

I bought the book, Restless Wave when it first came out. But, I couldn't get myself to open the pages. I was hoping to read the book before Senator McCain passed away. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I opened the book a few days after it was announced he passed away. I'm glad I read the book now. Because I can appreciate him much more.

I heard he was a war hero. Survived in Vietnam for 5 years as a prisoner of war. When he returned he worked in the government. The book was slow moving at times, but then sped up as he was talking about the armed forced committee in the senate.

He spoke out about the black sites, the treatment of suspected terrorist during the Iraq War. He didn't agree with our government when it came to waterboarding, and torture. When it came out in public to the American public. There was a public outcry by the American people. "We are better than this".

 I didn't realize that senators went abroad to visit countries to get better perspective frequently. Him, and his two amigos( Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman) traveled constantly. He writes mainly about foreign affairs. The countries he visited. The fears he had with conflict of the middle east, The conflicts of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Crimea, etc.
I didn't realize how much they senators were in harms way when they went overseas.

He talks about his happiness of running for presidency. Even though he was never elected. He is grateful for the people he met, and the experiences he had on the road on the bus with journalists. He doesn't talk about his regrets with his appointed VP Palin. But, he does talk about the mistake he made about the confederate flag in SC. He admits he's mistakes. Which most politicians won't admit to.

Knowing what I know now. If he didn't have Palin as VP.  Just think what would have happened? I think he had more experience than any other president elect. If you read his book you will see he has much experience, knowledge, and expertise when it comes to foreign affairs in
the Middle East, and in Russia. The mistakes our government made during the Obama administration with Russia, and Ukraine, Syria, and the Middle East. Perhaps Russia wouldn't be as much as a threat as it is now.

He writes about his time in congress, and the senate. How much he enjoyed his time there. Working with both sides, with honor, integrity, courage, character, and dignity. He never let his character waiver. He was a restless soul who couldn't sit still. He was always working. He made some great friendships on both side of the aisle. He writes about his sparring with Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Joe Biden. He still remained friends even after they argued.

He at the end of his life wanted to get back to regular order. Meaning, debate on issues, and  pass laws that cooperate and a give and take. Most everyone remembers when he was just diagnosed with cancer. He spoke at the senate, and voted hands down. Not because he wanted to stop Obamacare. But, because he wanted both democrats, and republicans to work together.

 He wrote about his parents. The roots he didn't have till he married he's second wife, Cindy. Which he loves he's Arizona home.

He writes about his great life. He has no regrets, and is very optimistic. He writes with a moving hand  He is very positive. I believe that Vietnam changed him. He is grateful he had a second chance.  If it wasn't for his capture, and release that he is profoundly grateful. He wouldn't have the same outlook. He's writing is poignant, and sincere. When reflecting on his life brought tears to my eyes.  He has a positive outlook even when anticipating his death.

Here is the excerpt of the last page of the book. If this doesn't perk you to purchase the book. I don't know what will. Perhaps I am a sucker.

The last two pages is very touching and sums it up. What character John McCain had. Here are two different excerpts:
Before I leave I'd like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us receive our sense that we are more alike than different. We are citizens of the republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enemies that tormented the old one. Even in times of political turmoil such as these, we share that awesome heritage and responsibility to embrace it. Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all. Those rights inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be assailed, they can never be wrenched. I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty. 
The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it". Spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in For Whom The Bell Tolls. And, I do too. I hate to leave it. But, I don't have a complaint. Not, one. It's been quite a ride. I've known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace. I've lived very well and I've been deprived of all comforts. I've been as lonely as a person can be and I've enjoyed the company of heroes. I've suffered deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: This Fight is Our Fight

This Fight is our Fight
By Elizabeth Warren

My Copy

I bought This Fight is our Fight after the 2016 election. I wasn't a political junkie. I became aware of Sen. Warren during the 2016  presidential race.  She speaks up for the ordinary middle class person. I love how she speaks up to Donald Trump, and our congress, and senate. Elizabeth Warren is a progressive that speaks volumes to the middle class, and the poor.She persists!

Her book is not a biography. Instead the book is about the Middle class, and the corporate, and financial world. She discusses the history of the financial system. It starts with FDR's  administration  protection and opportunities for American people.

She talks about her family's hardships. Her mother who worked for Sears and Roebuck. In the 1950's middle class could make it on a livable wage. How she was able to go to college because of the opportunities that were available to her then. The times have changed unfortunately.

The problem right now, is small companies are being eaten by the big corporations.  Now, with only a few corporations are less competitive. The big corporations have self interests. They have special interests in the government called lobbyists. There only interests are lining their pockets. The corporations want de-regulation to save money.

Unfortunately when you don't have regulations. These big corporations take advantage.
The small community banks have been eaten up by the big banks. These banks then play with our money by investing without the knowledge of their bank customers.  The government is not looking over their shoulder any longer. Instead looking out for the big corporations.

In the Reagan administration they reversed the course  FDR promised. Instead of opportunities for all. Reagan's administration promised
              Trickled down economy
Meaning eventually it will come down to you. It was a theory that never came to pass. Because the big corporations were just taking, and taking. Instead of giving to their workers. They were keeping for themselves. Then when President Trump came to his administration. He promised to drain the swamp!, never happened.

Senator Elizabeth Warren stands her ground- She persisted.  She stands her ground to help the American people.  She gives us stories about hard working Americans.Who can't make it.  She talks about Walmart, especially. Where I used to work. She describes it exactly.

Many people think that Walmart is a great place to work. Believe me, it used to be. When Sam Walmart was alive. But, when he's children took it. Things changed.

When I worked for Walmart. You had to fight for hours with co-workers. There wasn't the 40 hour work week for most of us. The workers who were there since 2008, were grandfathered. They could work 38 hours. The hours were based on the sales the store got in the last quarter. If Walmart lost money, your hours were cut down. The co-workers fought for hours with each other. You had to watch your back. There were many employees that worked for Walmart that were forced to apply for food stamps. Because their hours were cut.

 The American people are paying for that. Why the American people are paying for food stamps. It is the responsibility of the big corporations, not the American people. Big corporations are just too greedy.

The book is easy to understand on a very dry topic. Thank you Elizabeth Warren for writing and explaining this very devise topic, and explaining in easy terms. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in politics, and the understanding the reason our country is in the situation it is in, financially.

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Book Club: In The Unlikely Event

In the Unlikely Event
By Judy Blume

My Copy

In the Unlikely Event is a wonderful book. I have never read any of Judy Blume's novels. Originally I didn't think I would like her novel. Because the novel is character driven. That is not my cup of tea. The other reason. I don't do well with many characters. I can never keep the characters straight. I was wrong. I will point out. The publisher did us a favor. In the front of the novel. At least in my copy is a list of characters in front of the book. It was a pain in the beginning to get the characters straight. I had to keep flipping the pages back and forth. After about 100 pages I didn't feel it was as annoying.

Judy Blume's novel has a back drop on  true events that happened to Judy Blume when she was a young girl living in Elizabeth, NJ in the early 1950's.

Three plane crashes in a span of two months in her town.  The  plane crash happened in a school, in a orphanage, and a town municipal building.  The children were affected dramatically.  The children felt there was a conspiracy, communists, zombies, etc.

The story is about a Jewish family, Ammerman's,The  Osner's,  and Demetrious family. The book opens with the culture of the 1950's families, the town, and community and how they intersect. Think first of the  culture of the 1950's, the lipstick, hairstyles, the fashion.

I read the book a couple of weeks ago. My memories of the novel is sketchy. I enjoyed reading the novel. The themes of the book are broad. My take which I loved was about communication. How news was reported in the 1950's vs. 2018. The news in the 50's would take days. Now, of course is not only the written word but 24 hr news, and social media. News was not available instantly like it is today. Cable TV is changing the way we see news.

The big theme is in one instant one something in your life can make a difference. In the beginning of the novel. It opens 35 years later when the characters are middle age then goes back to the age when the characters are young children. Then what happened in one instant to change your life dramatically to change your life in middle age. It was a interesting perspective.
Miri closes her eyes, who is Lily, really? What are the odds that the two of them would be seated together on this flight? In the unlikely event.. She hears the flight attendant saying in her head. Life is a series of unlikely events, isn't it? Hers certainly is. One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich uncomplicated whole. And who knows whats still to come? 
I recommend reading it is a light read. But, don't expect it as a beach read. It is bit more in depth than a beach read. Has many themes.  Everyone in our book club except one person. Didn't like the book. And she loves character study.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Book Review: Nomadland

By Jessica Bruder
Library Copy

For the most average person is hard to make ends meet. Especially those who rely on social security. Try and make it on less than $500 a month. When your rent is double, or even triple that. So comes in Jessica Bruder's book, Nomadland.

During 2008 many senior citizens lost their savings, their home, etc.

Jessica Bruder followed and reported on people that no longer could afford their home. So instead of being homeless. They found other means of having shelter over their heads. They have health issues, and work very hard, and tedious work, and over 60+

These Citizen seniors, you can find them working at Amazon for a short time. When Amazon needs them during the Christmas holidays. But, when their time is up. It is time to move on. It is not easy.

 Many of them find work at Amazon, or campgrounds. But, when the summer is over. Time to move on. During the time there is work the Nomadland community is thriving. When the work is over it becomes a wasteland.

Some of you have seen them working,  You think they have it easy. Believe it they don't. After its over they have to worry, whats next. Where are they going to go next you ask. This is not a romantic way to live. They have to struggle every day to make ends meet.

The author spent some time with Linda. She followed and lived with her. The author actually worked at Amazon to know the difficulty of the Nomads. She saw that Linda enjoyed not be restricted to living in one place. And having the freedom of rent free life.  She enjoyed the comradary, and friendship of the nomad community when she settled in a temporary location. But, that didn't usually last long.

This is so shameful that our elderly have to do hard labor. Basically working for Amazon. No one at that age should be working that hard. These people are in poor health. But, when they don't have enough money for their medication. They have to decide on medication vs. food. Times are changing. Social Security doesn't cut it for most senior citizens.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Russian Roulette: Book Review

Russian Roulette
By David Corn
and Michael Isikoff

Purchased copy

Since Donald Trump announced his presidency. I have more informed By reading books, and watching TV, in politics, government, and American history.

 I have been a regular news watcher on MSNBC. After the election, I started watching Rachel Maddow. She would tells us the  news stories that no one else was reporting. Trump's  real estate in the Middle East, Trump-Putin-Russia connection,Oligarch connection,  Miss Universe, money laundering, hacking of the DNC, etc. Rachel was reporting, and kept reporting all this crazy stuff. To me, it sounded like a spy novel. The sad thing, it is TRUE!

When I learned where these stories are coming from. Then I learned these two guys were writing a book. I knew I had to buy it. I was not disappointed. I wish none of this was true. The book reads like a spy novel, think Daniel Silva.

I knew who Trump was from the 1980's from NYC. He was a slum lord. Always trying to get away with not paying contractors, swindling people, etc. He style was a big bully. Pull his weight and money around because he had lots of money. Well, there was a time he was in a lot of trouble. He lost a lot of money. Used corruption to get out of hock by money laundering.  I didn't like him then, I don't like him now. CON MAN. The sad thing is I have family, and friends that are bought into him. Brain washed!

So scary, he has become a dictator. Slowly, but surely we will slowly unravel into a fascist country. I saw it coming before he was elected, so sad.

The last straw which was reported in the book, and now is reported. That a young Russian infiltrated the NRA. She influenced our GOP Senators, and Congressmen. She was reported to go to Christian's  Breakfasts. They are giving money to NRA. This is all in the book before it came out last week.

The only thing there is a question is the "Golden Shower".  Most everything else has been proven by our intelligence agencies. No matter what Trump says. Nothing has been truly proven yet against our President.

My thought why doesn't he just tell the truth, and defend himself. He acts like a guilty man. It is hard to review the book without going on with the investigation and telling my thoughts.

Chapter 14 was the important chapter in the book. Why Obama didn't do more to attack back? Obama was afraid it was going to look like it was partisan. I think he was damn if he did, and damned if he didn't. Obama didn't want to attack Russia, and retaliate . He was afraid Russia may get into the electric grid, or even worse. I think he was overthinking, and rationalizing.  Which helped the Russian's, and Trump.

McConnell, the Senator Majority Leader didn't want to do anything. Shame on you. What I do remember hearing( not in the book) is that Obama had talked to people. That once he wasn't president any longer. He wanted the investigators to keep on uncovering. To hide that information from Trump. So there still is a paper trail and Trump can't sabotage.

I read Russian Roulette during the time of the Russian Summit. Trump is so stupid, really. Why Trump through the American people under the bus. Why he is suggesting that diplomats being interrogated by the Russians? Is he crazy?! Interrogating, you mean torture! Suggesting that we will accept Russia help with cyber security? He has not done anything to safeguard our country. Our elections are in November? The best thing would have allowed the transcriptionist to interview her. But, the  GOP doesn't want that. They apparently want the Russians to infiltrate us again. Trump walks a word back. It is three times he says, " It's a hoax". Then Sanders lies to the American people. She just tries to turn the story around. To confuse people. The reasonable people know whats going on. The Trump Cult eat
s and swallows every word. It so sad. They don't see what he is doing, Fox News( National TV), social media.

I am sorry my review turned into a rant. But, I just had to give my take on the situation. Thank you Mr. Corn, and Mr. Isikoff for informing the people what has been investigated. What we know. By the way, the reason these investigative reporters wrote the book. Because Mueller's investigation doesn't have an obligation to inform the people. It is Rod Rosenstein. The truth may never come out.

Why our country is going back in time with abortion, and our freedoms. Why our country is not separate from religion and state.
The truth has to come out. We, the American People have to fight back. Vote this November, Democrat to take back the house. Where we have check and balances. People have to have empathy,  heart, not reckless, nationalists, not divisive, and racists crazy people running around.

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Book Review: Alternate Side

Alternate Side
Anna Quindlen

Courtesy copy from

I have read a few books by Anna Quindlen. I was looking forward to reading the next book by her. I don't usually read books that deal with character study. That said, you will probably realize I was out of my comfort zone.

Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband, Charlie, lead a charmed life—except when there’s a crisis at work, a leak in the roof at home, or a problem with their twins at college. And why not? New York City was once Nora’s dream destination, and her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor, a tranquil village amid the urban craziness. The owners watch one another’s children grow up. They use the same handyman. They trade gossip and gripes, and they maneuver for the ultimate status symbol: a spot in the block’s small parking lot.

Then one morning, Nora returns from her run to discover that a terrible incident has shaken the neighborhood, and the enviable dead-end block turns into a potent symbol of a divided city. The fault lines begin to open: on the block, at Nora’s job, especially in her marriage. With an acute eye that captures the snap crackle of modern life, Anna Quindlen explores what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning.

I read Alternate Sides a couple of months ago. This was not a great read. But, I think I get the writing style of the book. The marriage of Nora, and Charlie is comfortable, They have two kids in college. They have a privileged life in NYC. They have lived there for years. Everyone knows everyone including everyone's children. The pages go very slowly, then the tension reads in the  pages after around page 100.

 A handyman takes a parking spot from one the residents. The handyman is Chicano, the neighbor and the handyman have an argument. Anger, and then a physical fight over the parking spot. The handyman ends up in the hospital for quite awhile. Each person has a different perspective. Charlie, and Nora disagree. I can see a book discussion while reading this. Who's perspective do you believe?
Why does Charlie see it different than Nora? How does the community change? Is there hope for the community? Well, yes there is. The community does heal.

The book was a slow read. But, I understand why the author wrote the way she did. The writing was smooth, and was descriptive writing. If you like reading books on character study. You will like reading. I was disappointed comparing the novel from her book years ago, Black and Blue. Which I loved.

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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