When Molly Lane, a photographer, died her husband came across black and white glossy photos she had taken of Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary. These...moreWhen Molly Lane, a photographer, died her husband came across black and white glossy photos she had taken of Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary. These photos revealed Garmony’s secret life of being a transvestite in which he dressed up in women’s clothes. Not sure what to do with the photos, he contacts Vernon Halliday, a friend of his wife. These photos can ruin Garmony’s life as well as his political career but Halliday is an editor of a struggling newspaper and these photos can only help boost the newspaper’s circulation. He decides to publish the photos on the front page to save his failing newspaper and this decision has profound consequences. Amsterdam deals with betrayal of a deceased friend and asks the question, “Is love a greater force than spite?”
This is a short, quick read but one that I didn’t enjoy. I felt the story has so much potential; it started out well and the build-up kept me interested but then it fell apart and I was left feeling disappointed. I usually enjoy books that have a morality-theme to them or ones that deal with dilemmas but this one was poorly executed. I give it two stars. (less)
Daniel grew up in a poor family living in the Bronx. His dad, Paul, owned a struggling radio repair business and his mom, Rochelle, was a housewife. B...moreDaniel grew up in a poor family living in the Bronx. His dad, Paul, owned a struggling radio repair business and his mom, Rochelle, was a housewife. Both his parents were full of radical passion and loyal to the Communist Party but for them it was a bad time in history to be “Red”. In America, there was a fear of Communists taking over. Daniel’s parents found themselves being hounded by FBI agents who harassed them with questions and staked-out their home. They even searched Paul’s place of business. Eventually they are accused of conspiracy to commit espionage and then executed. Several years later at age 25, Daniel is trying to understand and cope with these events as he navigates through the tumultuous 60’s and participates in protests that deal with draft-card burning. The Book of Daniel is about a man who searches for the truth about his parents’ deaths and wonders if they were sacrificed for the good of the left-wing party.
This is the first time I’ve read a book written by this author. I really enjoyed it and understand that it was loosely based on the story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the two Americans who were executed for being spies. While the story addresses the plight of the Issacsons, it really focuses on their children and what happens to these two orphans while growing up after their parents’ deaths. First they are placed in a shelter in which they act out and their behavior is disruptive and then they are finally adopted by a couple but their struggles follow them to their new family. I think seeing how their parents’ deaths affected their lives added a humanistic side to the story. I give this book 5 stars. (less)
When Christopher Boyce was 21 years old, his father helped him get a job at TRW, a company in the defense industry. He began working as a general cler...moreWhen Christopher Boyce was 21 years old, his father helped him get a job at TRW, a company in the defense industry. He began working as a general clerk with classified material but eventually he earned the clearance to work in the Black Vault with special projects in which he had access to Top Secret information. He was only one of six people approved for this most exclusive of clearances. While working in the Black Vault, he gained insight into the CIA and some of its covert operations. He decided he didn’t like what he learned about the U.S. government and the way they obtained intelligence thru secret satellites and he wanted to get back at them. For the next two years, Chris smuggled Top Secret documents out of TRW and had his childhood friend, Daulton, sell them to the KGB at the Russian Embassy in Mexico City. It was one of the most damaging espionage conspiracies against the U.S. in the postwar era. The loss was among the worst in the history of the CIA, since never before had the KGB penetrated American surveillance-satellite operations. This is the story about two men who came from respectable families, attended good schools, lived in a well-to-do neighborhood but threw away their futures.
I’ve always wanted to read this book and I’m so glad I finally found it in a used bookstore. I live in the South Bay area of Los Angeles where this incident took place so I’m familiar with a lot of the places that are mentioned in this book. This is an interesting story and the book was well written. Both these men came from privileged backgrounds so it’s unfortunate that they decided to make bad choices in life and ruin any chance of being successful. In the book they came across as smug and arrogant and they seemed to have the attitude that a lawyer can get them out of any jam so I’m glad they were found guilty and received a prison sentence. I’m not sure if I will read the follow-up book, The Flight of the Falcon, but I look forward to watching the movie. (less)
Ford Prefect is an alien from the small planet of Betelguese. For the last fifteen years, he has been disguised as an out-of-work actor while living o...moreFord Prefect is an alien from the small planet of Betelguese. For the last fifteen years, he has been disguised as an out-of-work actor while living on this planet and blending into Earth Society. The truth is, he is doing research for the new revised edition of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” a remarkable and highly successful book that has never been heard of by an Earthman. It is the standard for all knowledge and wisdom for traveling through the Galaxy and it has the words “Don’t Panic” written on its cover. Ford Prefect would like to include “See the Marvels of the Universe for Less Than 30 Altarian Dollars” in the updated version of this book. When the Galactic Council makes plans to build an express route through this planet’s star system, Earth is scheduled to be demolished. Ford Prefect warns his friend and unsuspecting Earthman, Authur Dent, that the Earth is about to be destroyed and convinces him to come with him. They hitchhike aboard a Vogon spacecraft before they are picked up by the Starship, Heart of Gold, which has the Improbability Drive, the new method of crossing vast interstellar distances in seconds. It is on the ship that their adventure really begins…
This isn’t the sort of book I’m usually interested in reading but it was on the 1001 Books You Must Read before You Die list so I gave it a chance. I appreciate the author and his efforts at being humorous and there were times that this book made me chuckle but in the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to for a book that has a cult-like following and is well-received by so many other readers. I doubt I will continue reading the series and I have no plans to watch the movie. Since I’m in the minority with my low rating, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this book. (less)
This story takes place in Mexico amidst a revolution. Tita grew up in the De La Garza household on a ranch where her world is the kitchen. She is cons...moreThis story takes place in Mexico amidst a revolution. Tita grew up in the De La Garza household on a ranch where her world is the kitchen. She is considered the “official” cook since she knows all the culinary secrets that have been passed on to her from other generations. She often gets compliments for her skill as a cook. Tita is in love with Pedro Muzquiz but it has been arranged for him to marry her sister, Rosaura. Since it is not decent to desire your sister’s husband, she has to give him up. Tita tries to put Pedro out of her mind while wondering if she will ever love like that again. Then she meets John Brown, a doctor. When she is near John she feels calm, settled, and at peace but when she is around Pedro she thinks he is still the one she loves. Her situation frustrates her and makes her irritable to the point where it feels like she is on the verge of boiling over like water for chocolate. This book addresses what it means to follow your heart while defying tradition.
This story contains magic realism which is new to me so I felt like I’ve been now introduced to this genre. I’m not sure if I will become a fan of this genre but it is nice to at least be exposed to it. I appreciate the way the author, Laura Esquivel, places an emphasis in this story on cooking aromas and how these smells evoke emotion and memory (I know I can’t smell a tamale without thinking of Christmas!). Also, for showing how food is so important in the Mexican culture. I thought this was an enjoyable love story and I give it three stars. (less)
This book is about a single day in the life of three ordinary women in three different time periods. There’s Virginia Woolf who is living in the subur...moreThis book is about a single day in the life of three ordinary women in three different time periods. There’s Virginia Woolf who is living in the suburbs of London in 1923. She is an author who is writing a book which she hopes to be her best but at times she seems unbalanced, suffering from severe headaches and hearing voices. Then there’s Laura Brown who lives in Los Angeles in 1949. She is suppose to be planning a birthday dinner for her husband but the demands of domestic life often wears her down and she escapes into her books to find relief. Finally, there’s Clarissa Vaughan who lives in New York City in the twentieth century. She is giving a party in honor of her friend, Richard, who has won a literary award. Each woman feels trapped, wishing they could lead a different life, one that would make them feel happier. It takes all their effort to pull themselves together so they can get through another day.
This book is on the 1001 Books You Must Read before You Die list and I find that it deserves to be here. It is a well written book and I enjoyed reading it. The Hours reminds us that as we live our lives, doing whatever we do, in spite of the struggles we face or the difficulties, there is an hour here or there when our lives seem fulfilling, but we need to open our eyes to realize it. (less)
Charlie just lost his friend Michael who committed suicide. He is having a tough time with it because he misses him a lot and he feels like such an em...moreCharlie just lost his friend Michael who committed suicide. He is having a tough time with it because he misses him a lot and he feels like such an emotional mess. To make matters worse, Charlie is starting his freshman year in high school. Although he does well in school academically, he is socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily so the thought of starting high school scares him. His parents are worried about him so they send him to a psychiatrist where Charlie talks about how feels and what he thinks about. It is suggested to him that he try to attend social events. Charlie takes the advice and it is at the high school football game where he becomes friends with Patrick, a senior, and Patrick’s stepsister, Sam, whom he develops a crush on. His new friends eventually invite him into their “click” and Charlie starts hanging out with this group. They go to parties, smoke pot, and act out scenes at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. They consider Charlie to be a wallflower but the group likes him anyways because he keeps quiet about some of the things he sees that he isn’t suppose to and they feel like they can trust him. He also becomes close with a teacher named Bill, who serves as both a mentor and a friend to Charlie. Despite all of this, Charlie harbors some painful memories from his childhood and they eventually come to the surface as he tries to deal with the stress of maneuvering through his first year of high school.
Young Adult books always strike me as light and easy reads in which I can laugh out loud as I recall my own teenage years so I was really surprised that this book had such a dark tone to it. I wasn’t expecting it to be as depressing as it was. It’s like the author tried to squeeze in as many social issues as he could in one book that it came across as unrealistic. I was going to give this book a low rating but I found that Charlie’s perspective of his family and its dynamics to be profound and his understanding that things change and life doesn’t stop for anybody to be a mature and wise view for someone as young as him. I give this book an average rating of three stars. (less)
In February of 1961, Sabena Flight 548 left New York for a ten-hour flight to Europe. On board were the entire U.S. Figure Skating Team, their coaches...moreIn February of 1961, Sabena Flight 548 left New York for a ten-hour flight to Europe. On board were the entire U.S. Figure Skating Team, their coaches, and some of the athlete’s family members. They were on their way to Prague for the World Championships but not before stopping in Brussels first. These figure skaters were standout American youngsters who made personal sacrifices and trained hard to become the elite in their sport. As the plane made its final descent towards the runway at Brussels International Airport, it crashed into a field killing all 73 people on board. The hopes and dreams of the skaters who died in the plane crash were shattered and the entire sport of figure skating was wounded. Prior to the crash, the United States dominated at the previous three Olympics and now the recovery process was expected to be slow and it might take several years to rebuild another championship team. Frozen in Time is the story about the U.S. Figure Skating Program’s darkest time.
I’ve been a fan of figure skating ever since Dorothy Hamill won a gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics when I was ten-years old. It was an honor for me when I was finally able to visit the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO and view the display that is dedicated to the 1961 World Team. I appreciate Ms. Nichols for writing this book because it allows the fans to learn more about these skaters and their personal lives and what their legacies represent to the sport of figure skating. And I think it is important that their memory and spirit is being kept alive through the Memorial Fund which assists talented skaters with financial support. (less)