Category Archives: Book Review

Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope: Kerry Kennedy in Conversation with Heads of State, Business Leaders, Influencers, and Activists about Her Father’s Impact on Their Lives Book Review

In the late 1960’s, Robert F. Kennedy was a beacon of hope and light in the darkness and chaos that defined the era. He was gunned down in 1968 by an assassin while on the Presidential campaign trail. Though his body has long since returned to the earth, his legacy lives on.

One of his children, activist Kerry Kennedy compiled a list of interviews about her father’s legacy in to a book entitled Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope: Kerry Kennedy in Conversation with Heads of State, Business Leaders, Influencers, and Activists about Her Father’s Impact on Their Lives. Interviewing politicians, performers, activists and others, the book details how RFK continues to inspire us fifty years after his death.

This book is amazing. While the interviewees are vastly different, the message is the same. RFK represented what America could be and challenged her citizens to step up to create the America he believed could one day exist.

I recommend it.

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Miss Ex-Yugoslavia: A Memoir Book Review

Living through history often provides a perspective that causes one to see the world through different eyes.

Sofija Stefanovic was born in 1982 in what was Yugoslavia. Together, with her family, she emigrated to Australia and then returned to Yugoslavia before then living out the rest of her youth in Australia.

Her new memoir, Miss Ex-Yugoslavia: A Memoir, is about a girl living in two worlds: the world of her childhood in Yugoslavia before it collapsed into war and the world of her growing up in peaceful Australia.

Not only is the book well written and enjoyable, it is to my mind relevant. It’s relevant because the current refugee crisis is not going away. If we are going to solve this crisis, we need to understand its root cause. This book is a good place to start.

I recommend it.

 

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Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu Book Review

Any politician that climbs the political ladder will no doubt have a controversy or two attached to their name. Benjamin Netanyahu, also known as Bibi, is the Prime Minister of Israel.

Earlier this year writer Anshel Pfeffer published a biography of Benjamin Netanyahu entitled Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu is the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born after the state of Israel was created in 1948. Born in Jerusalem and partially raised in the United States, Netanyahu is used to political controversy. A political animal who learned his political lessons in both Israel and the United States, the author argues that not only is his subject’s political career will soon be in pieces, but that modern Israel, for better or for worse, is defined by his leadership.

This book is part biography, part analysis of the subject’s political career. I think this book is an important read, especially if one is interested in world politics. It shows that a politician is a politician or a politician, regardless of the country they lead.

I recommend it.

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My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie Book Review

In December of 2016, when movie fans across the world were grieving the loss of iconic mother/daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, Todd Fisher, Debbie’s son and Carrie’s brother was grieving for his mother and sister.

Recently Todd released a memoir about his life with Carrie and Debbie, entitled My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie.  Born to Debbie and her first husband, Eddie Fisher, Todd and Carrie was raised among the whose who of the golden age of cinema. While Debbie’s career and personal life had quite a few ups and downs (two more marriages that went bust and financial struggles), Carrie had her own issues. While she gained fame playing Leia Organa in the Star Wars film franchise and later became a respected writer, she also famously tussled with mental health and chemical dependency issues.

I loved this book. It has humor, it has heart and it feels very personal. In addition to Todd’s memories, the book also contains anecdotes from Carrie and Debbie, in addition to family photos that the public has not been previously been privy to.

I feel like this is his way of saying his final goodbye to his mother and sister, while remembering the good times. For fans of Carrie and Debbie, this book allows them to do the same.

I absolutely recommend it.

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All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother Book Review

The underlying theme of fairy tales often comes down to good vs. evil. The problem with many traditional fairy tales is that while good and evil are clear-cut in these stories, they are not so clear-cut in real life.

In Cinderella, the good is personified by the title character. The evil is personified by her wicked stepmother.  Danielle Teller’s new book, All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother, adds shades of grey to the typical fairy tale good vs. evil narrative.

Cinderella is a newlywed, happy married to her prince charming. But while she settles into newlywed bliss, her stepmother, Agnes, is dealing with rumors that she mistreated her stepdaughter.

While Cinderella or Ella as she is known, grew in aristocratic comfort, Agnes’s early life was much more difficult. The youngest daughter in a peasant family, Agnes had to go to work after the death of her mother. Relying on her intelligence, she will eventually become nursemaid and stepmother to the girl known as Cinderella.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only is it well written, compelling and entertaining, but it adds new literary flavors and textures to the standard Cinderella story.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old Book Review

If we are lucky enough, we will live to old age.

Old age, like anything in life, has it downsides. It’s just a question of how one views those downsides.

John Leland, a journalist by trade, spent time interviewing a group of elderly men and women in the New York City area. They ranged in age from mid 80’s to early 90’s. The  result of this experience is his new memoir, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old. Though there was a variety in life experiences, cultures, race, religions, marital status, etc, one thing is clear. You have to enjoy life and the experience of being alive, regardless of your age.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because underneath all these stories was an undercurrent of choice. When one gets to a certain age, it’s easy to get down on oneself. Your body and mind don’t work like they used to, your family may be far away, your finances are limited to social security and retirement funds, etc. However, that does not mean that life is horrible. Life is what you make of it, it doesn’t matter if you are 8 or 80.

I recommend it.

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The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation Book Review

John Delaney  believes in the best of America.

He is the grandson of an immigrant and the son of a blue-collar electrician. After working in private industry for years, he ran and won a seat in the House Of Representatives in his home state of Maryland in 2012.

Last summer, Representative Delaney announced that was running for President in 2020 under the Democratic ticket.

In his new book, The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation, Representative Delaney lays out his plans for the Presidency, should he win. Utilizing his experiences from his personal life, from his jobs in the private sector and the political sector, Representative Delaney lays out a clear, thoughtfully written and researched plan to move America forward.

I think this book should be ready by every American citizen, regardless of where they land on the political spectrum. Unlike you know who, who shoots his mouth off, ignores or change facts and has no idea what is doing, Representative Delaney sounds exactly how a President should sound.

I recommend it.

 

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Educated Book Review

Any writer could write a story based on their childhood.

Tara Westover could write enough stories about her childhood to fill several books. Her memoir, entitled Educated, was published earlier this year.

Ms. Westover was raised in a survivalist Mormon family in Idaho. Both of her parents were self-employed. Her mother was a herbalist and a midwife, her father ran his own junkyard. She did not step foot into a conventional classroom until she was in her late teens because her father was opposed to the public educational system. After that first taste of real education, Ms. Westover was hooked. While she slowly broke away from her family, she climbed up the educational ladder, evetually receiving her PhD from Cambridge University in 2014.

For many adults, the decision to move away from their families and the way they were raised is not easy. It requires, patience confidence and the inexplicable belief that you know that what you are doing is the right thing. I enjoyed this book not only because it is well written, but also because it is inspirational to many who would love to chart their own course, but instead they comply with what they have been taught is the right way to live.

I recommend it.

 

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The Female Persuasion Book Review

From my perspective, our early 20’s are our most formative years. We are no longer teenagers, but at the same time, we do not have the wisdom or experience that only comes with age.

In Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, The Female Persuasion, Greer Kadetsky is shy college student who meets 60’s and 70’s feminist icon Faith Frank after a lecture at Greer’s college. Greer becomes an instant fan girl. Like many young women, she is torn between personal/professional ambition and her relationship with her boyfriend, Corey. Meeting Faith ignites something in Greer and leads her, Corey and her best friend Zee on a path that no one sees coming.

 

I loved this book. I loved it because we can all relate to it somehow. Greer is a modern every woman, trying to make sense of it all, whether it is her relationships with Corey and Zee or the career path that she is following Faith on.

I recommend it.

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The Hellfire Club Book Review

Politics has always been a dirty game.

In the new novel, The Hellfire Club, by respected journalist Jake Tapper, Charlie Marder has spent his professional life up to this point in the world of academia. But then his local congressman suddenly dies and through family connections, Charlie is suddenly thrust in the world of politics with his wife, Margaret. As Charlie and Margaret get used to the world of Washington D.C. in the 1950’s, they discover how dirty politics can be. Especially when their morals and their lives become endangered.

Blending real historical figures of the era with fictional characters, Tapper tells the story of political intrigue, back room deals and secrets that are kept from the voting public. While I couldn’t quite hook into the narrative, it was still a decent read and proof that regardless of the time period, politics, is still politics.

I recommend it.

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