A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

I first heard about a person named James Comey when President Trump fired him from his job as FBI Director for his failure to agree to be “loyal” to Trump. Famously, he agreed to be “loyally honest” in some sort of weird compromise. From Austria, I watched Comey’s hearing testimony before Congress with great interest. Many blamed him for Hilary Clinton’s defeat.

When I learned that he had written a book, I was intrigued to see his perspective on the controversial Presidency and Hilary email scandal. Although most of the book was about Comey’s career before Trump became president, Comey did have this to say about Trump:

“Donald Trump’s Presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation. We all bear responsibility for the deeply flawed choices put before voters during the 2016 election and our country is paying a high price. This President is unethical and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty. We are fortunate some ethical leaders have chosen to serve and to stay at senior levels of government, but they cannot prevent all the damage from the forest fire that is the Trump presidency. Their task is to try to contain it.”

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara hit a home run with this true-crime book about her obessive search to find the serial rapist and murderer who she dubbed the Golden State Killer.  This book tells the story of her search for the elusive killer.  McNamara passed away 2 years before her book could be published — and the book was finished after her death by her husband, American actor Patton Oswalt, with the help of writers.

Ill be gone

This brilliantly told story of the serial rapist and murderer, who is believed to have committed over 45 rapes and 12 murders,  is more disturbing then any slasher film — because it is real — it really happened.

If you read any true crime book this year, make sure it is this one.

Check out this book on Goodreads: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35068432-i-ll-be-gone-in-the-dark

The Killing Game: The True Story of Rodney Alcala the Game Show Serial Killer

Rodney Alcala, born in 1943 in San Antonio, Texas, is believed to have raped and murdered around 130 people. Alcala committed his first known crime (rape of an 8 year old girl) in 1968, at the age of 25 while a student at UCLA.  Due to the unavailability of the witness (she had moved back to Mexico with her family), Alcala was given a sentance of only 1 year to life, and released on parole after 34 months.

That was just the beginning of the horrific crimes of torture, rape, and murder that Alcala would commit during his lifetime.

I am giving the book 3 stars out of 5, as I neither really liked, nor really disliked it.

While I usually enjoy a true crime story, I found that this book while being extremely detailed and obviously well researched, lacked the human element — both in the telling of the background story of the killer himself, and also in the telling of the story of the victims.  I felt like I was reading some legal document, which was spelling out the facts of the case to a judge, rather than a novel.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Killing Game: The True Story of Rodney Alcala the Game Show Serial kIller http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36610960-the-killing-game

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.”

Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest

This book is actually 2 books in one, including the author’s previously published book A Most Haunted House.

Told in the interview style, this book was very well written and was very entertaining–if you like scaring yourself like me, the best time to read this book is right before turning out the lights.

Claiming to be non-fiction (of this I have no reason to doubt or confirm), the story starts in Wales, 1989, when Dai and Anne, a married couple get a good deal on the purchase of a house.  As is always the catch in these matters, the house is very, very haunted. At the beginning, the entities manifest themselves as shadowy figures, and over time move on to violations of both mind, body, and spirit–the entities terrorize the couple, so much so, that they are eventually forced to move out.

Decades later, an unsuspecting couple, “John” (who is in fact the author) and “Sarah” his now ex-girlfriend, move into the house.  Again, almost immediately they begin to experience strange occurrences in the house. The couple is so affected by the haunting, that they break up and move away.

The author ends the book with a recitation and summary of the varying theories of what could cause paranormal occurrences, or rather, people’s perception that these occurrences are happening to them.  While these theories are intriguing, I feel that they detract from the overall story of the individuals living in the haunted house.  In fact, I considered skipping it all together.  I would have rather liked to see these theories more fleshed out and investigated in a separate book.

Nevertheless, I really liked this book not only because of the overall story, but because of the realness of the characters. These people were just normal, average people who found themselves in an unspeakable situation. I could see myself a little in John, because at the beginning I also would have been excited to have a real haunting in the house, and can totally understand how this excitement could in fact turn to horror, fear, and despair.

If you love movies including Amnityville Horror, the Conjuring 2, Stranger Things (the series), and Insidious, (or if you are looking for a good scare) then I would definitely recommend this book.

Check out this book on Goodreads: Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38247056-haunted

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.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

On the night of the election in 2016, I was at the local watering hole in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was currently living for a work assignment. The Executive Surf Club is a great bar in Corpus Christi, and the guys and I would go every Tuesday for “Pint Night” (a night where a pint of beer was only $2 or $3). On this night, we had particulary gone to watch the election results.  At the beginning of the night, a victory for Hillary seemed assured.

As the night wore on, however, it became more and more obvious (and depressing), that Trump was going to win.  When I woke the next morning to discover that Trump had in fact won,  I was not at all unhappy that my contract had already been signed to move to Austria.  It seemed that I was getting out just in time.

Fire and Fury tells the story of the Trump campaign, painting a picture of a man who was only running for President to lose the race–the ultimate goal of course to become internationally famous and to improve his “brand”–only to find out that “oops” he had in fact won.

The author undoubtedly did not see Donald Trump as an “evil” person, but rather as a ignorant dup who basically had no political agenda (and in fact knew little to nothing about politics, law, or history), and just went with whatever Steve Bannon told him to do.  Basically, the author painted a picture of good (Ivanka and Jared) against evil (Bannon) and Trump, the impatient, childish puppet, caught in the middle.

If you haven’t already read the book, and even if you are a news hound, I would still suggest to read this book.  It was written very well and even surprised me in some places (e.g., how Bannon released the immigration Executive Order on a Friday to purposely cause chaos at airports).

Check out this book here on Goodreads: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.  You can also buy the book here on Amazon.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

Swedish death cleaning is the practice of decluttering your life prior to death. This book tells the story of the authors own death cleaning, as well as some stories from her past.

As I read…listened actually…to this book while hiking in the Austrian mountains (the audiobook takes less then 3 hours), I could not help to think of all the people in my life who have passed away. I could not help but to remember the difficult task of cleaning out my grandparents’ house.

This book, although being primarily about the art of death cleaning itself, is also about life, and the inevitabilty of death. The author offers practical advice for decluttering your life, so that loved ones will not be burdened with the task.

I would recommend this book for people of any age who (like myself) tend to keep far more possessions than necessary.