BOOK REVIEW: Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth

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Title: Black Klansman

Author: Ron Stallworth

Book Length (Audiobook): 5 hours 52 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: In 1978 Ron Stallworth was the first African-American Intelligence Unit Detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. As part of his job, he scanned the daily newspapers for any reports or information concerning hints of subversive activities which could impact the welfare or safety of Colorado Springs. One day he saw a classified ad for the KKK. He answered the ad, pretending to be a white man and racist. When the KKK called him back, it sparked a year-long undercover investigation into the KKK, during which time a white undercover cop pretended to be Stallworth in person, while Stallworth continued to be himself over the telephone.

As per Goodreads (link above), “Black Klansman is an amazing true story that unfolds like a crime thriller and a searing portrait of a divided America and the extraordinary heroes who dare to fight back.”

What I thought: Overall, the book was good. It was a really interesting subject, and one that I had never heard of before. The writing was good and so was the audiobook version. If I had to compare it to the other memoirs I have read this year so far, I would say it ranks toward the bottom, but that’s not to say this book is not good…I just read some really fantastic books in January, 2019.

BOOK REVIEW: The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

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Title: The President is Missing

Author: Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 5 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Thrillers, Fiction

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot: US President John Lincoln Duncan has huge problems. When the book opens, he is rehearsing for an impeachment hearing (I guess Bill Clinton’s experience came in handy for these scenes). Duncan is being alleged both with negotiating with known terrorist Suliman Cindoruk, (the leader of a group called the Sons of Jihad), and then later calling off the assassination of Cindoruk. In addition to these personal troubles, the United States is facing an imminent threat from the Sons of Jihad, who plan to launch a devastating cyber attack (a.k.a. “Dark Ages”) against the United States.

Duncan becomes aware of this sinister plot against the United States when a woman with insider knowledge approaches Duncan’s daughter at school to deliver a message about Dark Ages. The message basically reveals that there is a mole in the White House (because no one outside of a few people knew of it). In an effort to save the day, the President doesn’t go “missing” as much as he goes incognito, disguising himself with the help of his deceased wife’s friend, who is conveniently a famous actress (doesn’t everyone have such a friend?). He isn’t missing because his secret service team figures out where he is going and follows him. Additionally, he remains in contact with various people in his cabinet.

As he remains in “undisclosed” locations, the cyber attacks on various locations begin, building up to the final event. Will President Duncan be able to foil the plot in time to save the country?

The Writing: As with most Patterson books, the writing has a “fun beach read” quality. I couldn’t really tell where Bill Clinton’s influence might have come in, except for the descriptions of the White House and some of the more political aspects. I felt it was written mostly by Patterson, but Bill Clinton was given a prominent by-line due to his famous status. It was clear that Bill Clinton wrote the last speech given by Duncan at the end of the book. Even though I have liberal leanings, the speech was a big turn off. Please don’t preach at me in my fiction book that I read for fun.

The Audiobook Recording: The Audiobook is read by several people, including Denis Quad (who plays the President). I find his impression of a Russian, Israeli and German to be flat-out hilarious. They do not even remotely sound correct (and I live in Austria and work with Austrians and Germans, so I know what I am talking about). The Israeli (woman) impression, sounds like a botched attempt at a Mel Brooks movie. Additionally, the classical music which was played during the assassin scenes was distracting, and often played over the words so it was actually hard to hear what was happening in the book.

Expectations: My expectations were met. Since I’ve read many Patterson books, I knew what to expect, and I knew what I was getting into.

Recommendation: Would I recommend this book? Sure, if you are looking for a book that is a fast, easy, and entertaining read. I usually read Patterson books on the beach, or on the plane. I read this book while running / walking, or doing chores around the house.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday – The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List Jan 29 2019

via Top Ten Tuesday – The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

As per That Artsy Reader Girl’s Blog, “Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

I assign each Tuesday a topic and then post my top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join me and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

January 29: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List”. These books were all added in the past few months. Some were added based upon the reviews of others, and some were added because they were referenced in another book I was reading.

Has anyone read any of the below books? What are your Ten Most Recent Additions?

 

Cleaning up the “Want to Read” Bookshelf Week #1

Every week I intend to review the 5 oldest books on my “Want to Read” Bookshelf on Goodreads. The goal is to reduce the number of books each week, whether by deleting them, or by reading them. The criteria for whether to read the book or not is whether I can get the book for free from the library.

Current Books on “Want to Read” Bookshelf: 212

The Oldest 5 Books:

 

Book Title: The Twice Lost

Author: Sarah Porter

Added to WTR Shelf: November, 2012

Deleted / Read: Deleted January 27, 2019

Link: Goodreads

 

Book Title: The Runaway King

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Added to WTR Shelf: November, 2012

Deleted / Read: Not yet read

Link: Goodreads

 

Book Title: The Dream Thieves

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Added to WTR Shelf: December, 2012

Deleted / Read: Not yet read

Link: Goodreads

 

Book Title: The Tenth Witness

Author: Leonard Rosen

Added to WTR Shelf: January 2013

Deleted / Read: Deleted January 27, 2019

Link: Goodreads

 

Book Title: A Kiss of Blood

Author: Pamela Palmer

Added to WTR Shelf: June 2013

Deleted / Read: Deleted January 27, 2019

Link: Goodreads

 

2019 Reading Challenge + FREE PRINTABLE

I am totally down for this challenge!

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It’s that time again!

After the huge success of last year’s challenge, I am beyond excited to announce that the 2019 Reading Challenge is here!

This year’s challenge will take on the same format as last year as we attempt to read our way through 52 books in 52 weeks. In the graphic below, you will find fifty-two different categories. Some of my favourites from this year include: “a one-word title,” “an author who uses a pseudonym,” and “a family member’s favourite book.” Many of these categories were suggested by readers who participated in last year’s challenge and I can’t wait to dive in!

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Living the “Less Experiment”: Week 1

As I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, In December/January, I read the book The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. It has inspired me to try my own “less” experiment. Since I know that it will be difficult, I want to try it 1 week at a time.

mug photoThe “Less Experiment” started out as a spectacular failure. On Monday, I had two cups of coffee, a piece of chocolate for someone’s birthday, and because I had already failed by eating junk food, I stressed ate a handfull of chips before stopping myself. I worked until 7pm, and wasn’t able to muster the motivation to arrive late to my German lesson. My boyfriend insisted that we watch Bandersnatch (the interactive Black Mirror movie on Netflix). The movie was good, but I probably could have spent the 1.5 hours doing something more productive. Lastly, even though I didn’t go shopping myself, my boyfriend bought a package of apples wrapped in plastic.

Tuesday and Wednesday were no better than Monday. I worked again until 7pm both days, which meant that I missed my German lessons. Since I was so stressed at work, I ate some chocolate to keep me sitting at my desk. By the time I got home, made and ate dinner, there was no time left to do any exercise. In the last three days I have only walked about 10,821 steps (only about 30% of my goal).

By Thursday, I decided that I had to give up. When I analyze why last week went so wrong, I came to the conclusion that it was because I was working until 7pm every night. When this happens, I don’t have time to do anything when I get home. Therefore, I am renewing my goals for this upcoming week. Wish me luck!

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  1. Leave work by 6pm;
  2. Excercise for at least 30 minutes per day, with 10k excursions on Saturday and Sunday;
  3. No alcohol (for losing weight reasons);
  4. Write my book for at least 30 minutes per day, but in a week write no less than an additional 1,000 words;
  5. Declutter the living room area;
  6. No Netflix;
  7. Study German for at least 30 minutes per day
  8. Don’t buy anything containing plastic
  9. Only buy things based upon need and not want

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Moor by Sam Haysom

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Title: The Moor

Author: Sam Haysom

Book Length: 224 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal

Read Start Date: January 8, 2019

Read Finish Date: January 26, 2019

In the 1830’s or 1840’s an alleged witch, Emily Brown, was stripped naked, her body mutilated, and was hanged from a tree near her home. The perpetrators of the crime were never caught. Now, in 2002, the Moor is haunted by her restless and malevolent ghost, or that is what the local legend says anyway. James, Gary, Matt, and Tim (all 13 years old) and Tim’s dad, the charming and likeable Mr. Stevens, are in the moor on a weekend walking trip, when strange things start to happen.

Noises in the night. Severed rabbit parts strewn about the campsite. And then Gary goes missing. Has Emily Brown exacted her revenge, or is something even more sinister lurking in the darkness? As a storm bears down on the bedraggled group, will they make it out in time, or will they become the moor’s next victims?

This book was excellent. From the writing to the overall plot this book delivered 5 out of 5. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I want to save the surprise. I liked how the story alternated between perspectives of the characters and from the years 2002 and 2015. A little bit paranormal, a little bit supernatural, this book will keep you guessing until the end.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Moor http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40023909-the-moor

Professional Reader

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

BOOK REVIEW: Becoming by Michelle Obama

38746485Title: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Book Length (Audiobook): 19 hours 10 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Links: Goodreads and Amazon

Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir

Read Start Date: January 19, 2019

Read Finish Date: January 27, 2019

The Audiobook of Becoming is read by the author, Michelle Obama. This is really fantastic because its like the author herself is talking directly to you about her own story. On the list of memoirs I have read so far this year, (Educated, The Year of Less, and Girl Wash Your Face), this book ranks toward the top.

The book is very well written and M. Obama writes with the openness and frankness that is the foundation of every good memoir. From fertility issues to the white house, M. Obama seems to hold nothing back.

As the Goodreads synopsis (link above) puts it, “In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

I couldn’t have said it better. This is a must read for 2019. I have some spoilers in the rest of the review, so feel free not to read on.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Becoming by Michelle Obama”

BOOK REVIEW: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

35542451Title: Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

Author: Rachel Hollis

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 4 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Non-fiction, Humor, Memoir, Self-help

Read Start Date: January 3, 2019

Read Finish Date: January 23, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.”

My Review: I’m having a really hard time writing a review about this book because I really do not know how I feel about it. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. It paled in comparison to the other memoirs I read this year so far (Educated and The Year of Less), but it was also entertaining. Sometimes I could not relate to the author (e.g. she is a Christian and talks openly about God, and I am not religious). Other times, I did relate to what she was saying, and I generally liked her “you go girl” attitude.

This book is by far not my favorite, but a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Educated by Tara Westover

35133922Title: Educated

Author: Tara Westover

Book Length (Audiobook): 12 hours 10 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Autobiography

Read Start Date: January 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: January 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

My Review: I really liked this book, as disturbing as it was. I would go further to say that this is a must-read for 2019. The writing is great, and it reads truly like fiction, even though, alarmingly, it is not. I read (listened) to this book in only a few days, as it is honestly hard to put down. Educated is the true story of the author’s childhood growing up in a fundamentalist Mormon family in rural Idaho. It is a revealing story, which looks into the hard truth of Westover’s upbringing, and the author’s portrayal of her family and herself is at times scathing and highly critical.

The story parallels the fiction book The Great Alone in so many ways. In both stories, the protagonist grows up in the shadow of her overbearing, paranoid father. Westover’s mother is, like I imagine most women are in abusive relationships, meek and diminutive, bending to the whims of her husband, no matter how ridiculous or crazy. This is also true in the The Great Alone. Both fathers suffer from some form of mental illness, in The Great Alone it is PTSD, and in Educated, the author’s father is (undiagnosed) bipolar. Being conservative / fundamentalist mormon adds another layer to the complications of living with such a man, as Westover’s father becomes a prophet of sorts for his harshly conservative brand of Mormonism. His “testimonies” are the bedrock of the family ethos and are not to be questioned.

I have some spoilers below, so read on with caution.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Educated by Tara Westover”